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Japan welcomes Doklam resolution, lauds India's 'persistence'

Author: Indrani Bagchi, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 5, 2017
URL:   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/japan-welcomes-doklam-resolution-lauds-indias-persistence/articleshow/60379240.cms

Japan today welcomed the resolution on Doklam attributing it to India's "persistence and resilience" that resulted in a peaceful settlement. Japan is looking for a "big leap" in its relationship with India, Katsuyuki Kawai, Japan prime minister's foreign policy adviser, told a think tank, Aspen Ananta Centre.

In India a week before Abe's visit, Kawai said "Japan confronts everyday Chinese expansionist behaviour."

Kawai said Abe expected the three pillars of the India-Japan relationship to move forward substantively during his visit. First, on the high speed railway, Japan wants to move beyond the present Mumbai-Ahmedabad line which is expected to be done by 2023 to others (Delhi-Varanasi, for instance) which are currently under negotiation.

Security and defense cooperation is the second pillar, Kawai said, where the Malabar exercise is a "symbol of cooperation." Kawai made a strong pitch for Australia to be included in the exercises. Canberra has openly said it wants to be part of the Malabar exercises, India still retains some reservations.

The third pillar, Kawai said, was joint development of defence equipment between India and Japan. This is significant, given the current regional security context.

Making a rare intervention, Kawai said "the security environment around japan moved to a decidedly different phase." The time has arrived he said, to consider the possibility of Japanese Self Defence Forces (SDF) acquiring cruise and ballistic missiles. On August 29 North Korea shot off a missile over Japan, which has added to the destabilisation of the region.

Kawai said he had delivered three messages to the US on behalf of Japan's PM — first, there should be no talks with DPRK now, only "effective pressure"; second, Japan "welcomed" Trump's announcement that "all options were on the table" and third every action by DPRK should have a reaction. "We should be careful not to fall in the dialogue and negotiation trap."

Continuing, Kawai said, Kim Jong is neither under pressure, nor is he cornered. "Rather, Kim has the upper hand, he is playing Xi Jinping. He is taking advantage of the fact that Xi does not want trouble before the 19th party congress."

But, he added, Kim's actions "help Xi achieve the desired outcome for himself and China by the US — the more provocative Kim becomes, the greater the value of China as a tamer to the US." The US procrastination about naming China a currency manipulator is a prime example. In addition, China has a deep aversion to a unified Korea under US influence emerging on its doorstep, Kawai observed.

Making a shocking revelation, Kawai said North Korea and China each have about 200 intermediate range ballistic missiles, but neither US nor Japan have any, the US having dismantled its missiles under the INF treaty with USSR. This means balance of military strength in North Asia is "extremely lopsided".

"We Japanese must face up to the fact that the security environment surrounding Japan has moved to a decidedly different phase," Kawai said.

Looking at the unfolding crisis from the Japanese point of view, Kawai said, the time for diplomacy on North Korea is over. Describing last weekend's nuclear test by Katsuyuki Kawai, Japan prime minister's special adviser, who is in India just days before Abe's visit here, said North Korea's nuclear test last Sunday is "unacceptable and unpardonable."

While Japan and US are working together to address the crisis, Kawai said, Japan was seriously evaluating its options — the US-Japan alliance that has endured from world war ii is "strong and effective" he said, but "our national security environment has been drastically changed since the North Korean crisis." This is a critical time, he said, for Japan to be taking its own security decisions in the interests of its people. This is the first time a senior Japanese official has expressed doubts about the durability of the Japan-US alliance.

While it has been a pet Indian line, the high level Japanese official agreed today that the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology has contributed to the problems in the Northeast Asian region.

Japan wants to see North Korea's nuclear infrastructure destroyed completely. Sanctions, Kawai said, don't really work because China and Russia have created "loopholes" that helped Pyongyang evade sanctions. (North Korea has been selling weapons to African countries and Middle East, while its citizens are encouraged to work as labour in the Gulf countries). Russia and China, he said are reportedly taking steps to help North Korea circumvent the ban on coal imports etc.
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