4th Japan-ASEAN Vice-Ministerial Forum

ASEAN and Japan need to further their defense cooperation amidst the already robust relations between the Southeast Asian group of states and Tokyo. This was general sense in the recent-held 4th Japan-ASEAN Vice-Ministerial Forum in Tokyo, Japan last 14 March 2013. With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe receiving the heads of delegations of the 10 ASEAN members in a courtesy call prior to the forum, the gesture is indicative of the high value Japan accords to its defense relations with its ASEAN partners.

During the forum, the participants exchanged views on Asia-Pacific security issues and explored the future of Japan-ASEAN partnership along with taking stock of the progress of cooperation in key ASEAN-centered regional mechanisms where Japan is an active participant such as the ADMM-Plus and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Undersecretary Secretary of National Defense Honorio S. Azcueta who headed the Philippine delegation shared how the ADMM-Plus Experts Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations which the DND co-chairs with New Zealand’s Ministry of Defense has been able to conduct practical activities. These include a legal seminar (November 2011), regional capabilities stocktaking workshop (June 2012) and operational challenges workshop (November 2012) including the force generation workshop to be held in April 2012 in New Zealand.

Held the following day was the 4th Tokyo Defense Forum on Common Security Challenges, with Mr. Nyan Lynn (Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN), Prof. Susumu Yamagake from Japan Dr. Rizal Sukma of Indonesia’s Center for Strategic and International Studies and Dr. Donald Emmerson of Standford University sharing their thoughts on the future role of Japan and ASEAN amidst the evolving security landscape in the Asia-Pacific. With Professor Ryosei Kokubun, President of Japan’s National Defense Academy serving as chair, a lively debate transpired among the speakers, specifically in regard to the issues on ASEAN’s centrality and regional institutions. As the seminar was open to the public, Japanese citizens had the opportunity to query the speakers on certain issues arising from their presentations. The seminar was likewise attended by the delegations from the vice-ministerial forum of the previous day.