Academic journal article Asia Policy

Anchoring Diversified Security Cooperation in the ADMM-Plus: A Japanese Perspective

Academic journal article Asia Policy

Anchoring Diversified Security Cooperation in the ADMM-Plus: A Japanese Perspective

Article excerpt

Japan's 2013 National Security Strategy outlined the country's strategic approaches in three dimensions: (1) strengthening and expanding Japan's own capabilities and roles in building comprehensive defense architecture, (2) strengthening the alliance with the United States, and (3) increasing diplomacy and security cooperation with Japan's partners to promote peace and stability in the international community.1 Among the above three approaches, Japan has given security partnerships and defense diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific increased importance in its strategic portfolio in recent years.

This essay will first review Japan's regional defense diplomacy strategies and participation in the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMMPlus). The second section will then evaluate the opportunities that the ADMM-Plus offers Japan, followed by a discussion of the challenges that the group still faces. The essay concludes by examining Japan's expectations for the role that the ADMM-Plus will play in shaping the security environment of the Asia-Pacific.

Japan's Defense Diplomacy and the ADMM-Plus

Since the inception of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994, Japan has been an active and staunch supporter of the regional security dialogue process. While Japan has maintained a security policy centered on its alliance with the United States, multilateral cooperation has provided a supplementary platform for non-zero-sum confidence building in the region in the post-Cold War security environment.2 Its confidence in the ARF, however, waned during the late 1990s. Japan became frustrated by the forum's slow progress and poor record in the promotion of confidence-building measures and preventive diplomacy, despite the phased approach projected in the ARF Concept Paper in 1996.3 In the eyes of Japanese officials, the lack of full participation by defense officials and the military services in the ARF had become an obvious obstacle to adopting practical measures for security cooperation.

As early as 2002, Gen Nakatani, then director of the Japan Defense Agency (the precursor to the Ministry of Defense) suggested that the ARF, which was predominantly led by foreign ministry officials, should be complemented by a parallel defense forum. Nakatani proposed that the newly established Shangri-La Dialogue, a nonofficial defense dialogue organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, could provide a venue for a future Asian defense ministerial meeting.4 However, this proposal met with a "cool response" from Japan's ASEAN counterparts due to the lack of prior consultations.5

Against this backdrop, Japan welcomed ASEAN's proposal in 2007 to expand the format of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting to include extraregional members, which was formally adopted in May 2010. At the first meeting of the ADMM-Plus, Japan's deputy defense minister, Jun Azumi, called for "converging various security cooperation measures" among member states.6 In his speech, Azumi reiterated that ASEAN should remain the driving force of the region, the ADMM-Plus should promote specific measures for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), and member countries should share rules and values through the dialogue process.

Since 2010, Japan has been an active participant in and supporter of the ADMM-Plus. Japan and Singapore served as co-chairs of the Experts' Working Group (EWG) on Military Medicine until March 2014, and Japan has proactively supported the role of military medicine, especially during disaster-relief operations, such as in the Philippines in 2013 following Typhoon Haiyan.7 Furthermore, at meetings of the EWG on maritime security, Japan emphasized the importance of establishing shared customs at sea to avoid unintended collisions and the escalation of situations when warships and government vessels approach and encounter each other. In June 2013, Japan participated in the first ADMM-Plus field training exercise held in Brunei Darussalam, organized by the EWGs on HADR and Military Medicine. …

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