Japan boosts ties with South East Asian nations to counter China
Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asserted the need for promoting and improving ties with Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia in an apparent bid to counter increasing Chinese aggressiveness in South East Asia.
Abe, whose first overseas visit to these three countries was cut short by the Japanese hostage crisis in Algeria, highlighted the importance of resolving territorial arguments involving China and its neighbours in the East and South China Seas, reports the Japan Times.
In a clear stance to prevent China from dominating over these waters, Abe said that he is hoping to boost Japan's security alliance with the United States, which is prioritising freedom of navigation in the area.
Hoping for a strong economic recovery, Abe had also reconfirmed Japan's strong economic ties with Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, which are all rapidly expanding economies that require Japanese technologies and investments for various projects to further their growth, including infrastructure development.
Tetsuo Masuda, a research fellow of the Tokyo Foundation think tank, said that Asian nations that greatly depend on Japan economically count on Tokyo's influence in the international community so they can strategically deal with major powers like China and the United States.
Elsewhere in the region, Vietnam and the Philippines are involved in bitter sovereignty clashes with China over isles in the South China Sea. Chinese planes and ships have been constantly present around the Senkaku islands, which are known as Diaoyu in China, since Japan bought three of the five islands on September 11.