Japan-U.S.-Philippines Summit Meeting: 3 Nations Should Deepen Security Cooperation to Deter China

China’s claim that almost all the South China Sea is its own territory is contrary to fact and has no legal basis. Japan, the United States and the Philippines should promote security cooperation to deter China’s dangerous actions.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have met in Washington.

In a joint statement, the three leaders expressed “serious concerns” over China’s continued provocations in the East and South China seas, and it has been reaffirmed that the defense and coast guard authorities of the three countries will each promote trilateral exercises. The leaders also agreed to establish a new forum for maritime consultations.

This is the first summit meeting between the three countries. The aim of the meeting was for Japan and the United States to support for the Philippines, which is in a dispute with China over territorial rights in the South China Sea.

China has been turning the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea into a series of military outposts. Since last year, Chinese Coast Guard vessels have repeatedly rammed Philippine vessels and used water cannons around Second Thomas Shoal, where Philippine military personnel are stationed. Injuries have been reported on the Philippine side.

The provocative behavior of China Coast Guard vessels is too reckless. One misstep could lead to a military clash.

China’s claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea have been completely denied by a 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. China’s activities, which ignore the ruling of the international organization and disrupt maritime order, cannot be overlooked.

The joint statement also expressed strong opposition to China’s attempts to unilaterally change the status quo regarding the Senkaku Islands. The statement also included the “ironclad U.S. alliance commitments” to Japan and the Philippines, both allies of the United States.

It can be said that China’s hegemonic activities have strengthened the relationship between Japan, the United States and the Philippines. The countries should repeat exercises to enhance response capabilities.

Prior to the trilateral summit meeting, Kishida delivered a speech titled “For the Future: Our Global Partnership” in English for about 35 minutes at a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

In the speech, the prime minister expressed his determination to protect the international order through cooperation between Japan and the United States, adding: “You [the United States] are not alone. We [Japan] are with you.”

Kishida also said that Japan is working to strengthen its defense capabilities by increasing its defense budget, and that Japan is the world’s largest direct investor in the United States and creates jobs within that country.

It has been pointed out that former U.S. President Donald Trump may return to office as a result of the U.S. presidential election to be held this November. For the prime minister, the occasion was an opportunity to emphasize how Japan contributes to U.S. security and its economy as well as to seek bipartisan understanding from both Democrats and Republicans.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 14, 2024)