The leader of Komeito, the junior party in the ruling bloc, on Sunday urged Japan to take the lead in creating a permanent regional framework that includes the United States, China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region to promote dialogue and avoid conflict amid soaring tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Natsuo Yamaguchi said in a speech in Tokyo that the increasingly severe security environment in Asia has prompted a need for a regional body resembling the Organisation for Security and Economic Co-operation, a framework that includes European nations, the U.S. and Russia. The OSCE is currently involved in talks on negotiating peace in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“In Asia, there is no permanent mechanism for dialogue between China, the U.S., the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other countries,” Yamaguchi said.
“Japan needs to take the initiative in promoting the creation of such an organization,” he said, adding that promoting a peaceful and stable environment — and preventing “unforeseen situations” — through such an organization would improve the chances of successfully tackling major issues such as global warming
Yamaguchi’s mention of China and the United States and “unforeseen situations” was seen as an implicit reference to the growing rivalry between Beijing and Washington. The two powerhouses have sparred over trade and human rights, but security issues, including the fate of self-ruled Taiwan, have been particularly worrisome for Japan. Former and current senior Japanese officials have said a military contingency near Taiwan would be a critical security issue for Tokyo.
China claims Taiwan as a renegade province that must be brought back into the fold — by force, if necessary — and regards it as a core issue.
Washington, which switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei in 1979, considers the self-ruled island a key partner and crucial line of defense as the Chinese military continues to push further into the western Pacific. Japan and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic ties, but the two sides have long maintained a robust relationship that includes economic and cultural exchanges.
The OSCE, one of the world’s biggest security-focused intergovernmental organizations, deals with a wide range of issues, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures and human rights. Japan, along with South Korea, Thailand and Australia, are all current Asian Partners in the OSCE but are not signatories to the 57-member body.
It’s unclear, however, if China — which does not participate in the OSCE as either a member state or partner country — would have any desire to participate in another multilateral body outside of several other Asian groupings that have at least some focus on security issues.
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