Kyodo News
July 12, 2022

Asia experts seek Japan’s lead in rules-based order after Kishida win

Asian security experts have welcomed the victory by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling coalition in Sunday’s House of Councillors election, saying Japan’s political stability and leadership are vital for shoring up a rules-based international order being challenged by countries such as China and Russia.

Citing Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, China’s increased assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, the experts expressed support for, or at least did not oppose, Kishida’s calls for boosting Japan’s defense capabilities and amending the Constitution, including adding a reference to the Self-Defense Forces in the war-renouncing Article 9.

“In the current environment with the war in Ukraine and growing concern over the risk of conflict between China and Taiwan, there is growing support for a greater Japanese security role in the Indo-Pacific,” said Gordon Flake, chief executive officer of the Perth USAsia Centre at the University of Western Australia.

Stressing that “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow” – an apparent reference to Beijing’s territorial ambitions with regard to Taiwan and the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea – Kishida has vowed to “fundamentally reinforce” Japan’s defense capabilities in the next five years with a “substantial increase” in the defense budget.