Utilize Multilayered Discussions to Bolster Deterrence

Defense ministers and other individuals from countries in and around Asia actively exchanged views on the security environment in the region. The multilayered discussions should be utilized to deter accidental clashes amid rising tensions.

The Asia Security Summit was held in Singapore and attended by defense officials and experts from more than 40 countries, including Japan, the United States, South Korea, China, Australia and Southeast Asian nations. The conference, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, is organized annually by a British policy research institute.

On the sideline of the summit, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada attended a number of defense ministers’ meetings, including one with the U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs and another with his South Korean counterpart.

At the meeting with the U.S and South Korean defense chiefs, the three countries agreed to promptly share information on North Korean missiles. The Japanese and South Korean radar systems, which detect and track missiles, will be linked via the United States. This arrangement is expected to go into operation by the end of the year.

Regarding North Korean missiles, Japan and South Korea have sometimes released differing information about aspects such as trajectories and flight distances.

In Japan, there has been confusion on a number of occasions, such as the time when the missile launch information from the J-Alert early warning system was issued when a missile passed over Japan.

Once the radar systems of Japan, the United States and South Korea are linked, it is expected that missile flight paths will be accurately determined and the accuracy of the information released will be improved.

The improvement in bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea following the March summit of the nations’ leaders appears to have deepened security cooperation among the three countries.

North Korea’s latest ballistic missile that it launched under the guise of a “military reconnaissance satellite” ended in failure, but Pyongyang has announced plans to relaunch at an early date.

The importance of cooperation between Japan, the United States and South Korea is increasing. It is necessary not only to share information, but also to enhance response capabilities through such means as expanding joint drills.

At the Japan-South Korea defense ministers’ meeting, they agreed to accelerate talks on the issue of a South Korean Navy ship that directed its fire-control radar at a Self-Defense Forces aircraft in 2018, including discussions on how to prevent a recurrence.

The South Korean side has not yet acknowledged that the incident occurred. It reportedly did not change its position at the latest defense chiefs’ meeting. However, by accepting Japan’s request to discuss measures to prevent a recurrence, South Korea likely aimed at restoring trust between the SDF and the South Korean military.

In Singapore, the first defense ministerial meeting between Japan, the United States, Australia and the Philippines was held. The Philippines’ strengthening of its relations with the United States, such as by increasing the number of bases available to U.S. armed forces, probably led to the first such talks between these four nations.

China has repeatedly acted provocatively in and around the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. In order to halt Beijing’s hegemonic activities, it is essential to deepen multilateral cooperation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 5, 2023)