News / Asia

Japan Courts Southeast Asia Amid Mutual Tensions With China

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at his official residence after summit meetings with 10 Southeast Asian countries, in Tokyo, Dec. 14, 2013.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at his official residence after summit meetings with 10 Southeast Asian countries, in Tokyo, Dec. 14, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
Japan is looking to deepen political, economic and defense ties with Southeast Asia amid mutual tensions with China over disputed territories. Those tensions were a focal point of discussions at a regional summit in Tokyo that ended Sunday. For Southeast Asian nations with close ties to Beijing, the talks also spotlighted the difficult balancing act in which its leaders must engage.
 
Leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Japan met in Tokyo recently and agreed on the importance of freedom of navigation in the region's international skies and waters.
 
The summit statement came just weeks after China announced a controversial expansion to its Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea.
 
According to China, any aircraft wanting to enter China's expanded ADIZ in the East China Sea is required to first notify Chinese authorities. However, the zone covers territory that is also claimed by Japan and South Korea. The move by Beijing sparked objections from Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington that Beijing is trying to change the status quo.
 
At a press conference following the Japan-ASEAN meetings, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on China to rescind the expansion.
 
Abe called for the withdrawal of all measures that violate the general principles of freedom of navigation, as understood in international law. He added that Japan has no intention of changing the government's policy to advise Japanese civilian airline companies to continue their normal operations.
 
The Japanese-administered Senkaku islands are known as the Diaoyu islands in China. Beijing sends frequent patrols of coast guard boats and military jets near the area. Chinese officials assert the islands are Beijing's and routinely denounce Japanese criticisms as unfounded.
 
The standoff over the islands in the East China Sea has echoes in the South China Sea. There, China claims most of the territory, overlapping with claims held by ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
 
China's ambassador to Manila said Beijing has the right to announce a similar air defense identification zone in the South China Sea.
 
Political analysts say China's aggressive stance on the disputed territory has made it lose diplomatic ground in Southeast Asia that Japan is working to gain.
 
At the summit, Japan pledged $19 billion in aid and loans to the ASEAN region and to deepen defense cooperation.
 
Abe offered the Philippines aid to help the recovery efforts after Typhoon Haiyan, along with coast guard vessels. He also offered patrol boats to Vietnam.
 
In a further sign of the importance Japan places on cultivating ties with Southeast Asia, while he has yet to call on Beijing, Abe has visited all ten ASEAN nations.
 
Nonetheless, as with Japan, China is ASEAN's number one trading partner and some members remain much closer to Beijing than Tokyo.
 
Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Japan's Temple University, thinks ASEAN is seeking Japan to act as a counterweight to China in the region.
 
“When Abe toured the region he was promoting something called the 'Arc of Freedom and Prosperity,' based on common values. And, this concept was clearly aimed at containing China. And, back in 2007 the reception was quite lukewarm. Now I think that China has... [acted] like the plausible bogeyman. And, so I think that the reception is a lot warmer now and I think the ASEAN countries are in a hedging mood,” said Kingston.
 
Underlining the potential for conflict with China, the U.S. Navy said on Saturday that one of its guided missile cruisers was forced to change course after a Chinese warship stopped in its path last week in the South China Sea.
 
Pentagon officials say the Navy vessel USS Cowpens was in international waters, observing China's new Liaoning aircraft carrier. They say a smaller Chinese ship then moved in front of the U.S. vessel, forcing it to come to a full halt.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More