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EDITORIAL | Working with NATO on Ukraine is Linked to Japan’s Security

Japan should cooperate with NATO to deter both tyrannical China and Russia. Secretary-General Stoltenberg's visit to Tokyo confirmed that commitment.

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NATO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses the Self-Defense Force personnel at Iruma Air Base on the morning of January 31. (© Sankei by Manabu Matsumoto)

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visited Japan in January. He sought to strengthen Japan's alliance with NATO and reaffirm bilateral security ties. It was a commendable effort.

Stoltenberg met with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi respectively. In a joint statement, the two leaders condemned Russia's aggression in Ukraine. Furthermore, they shared concerns about the increasing military coordination between China and Russia, including coordinated drills around the Japanese archipelago.

Prime Minister Kishida explained the new National Security Strategy, and Stoltenberg expressed his support.

Their joint statement noted Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the shifting balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, they stressed that "unilateral changing of the status quo by force or coercion is not acceptable anywhere in the world."

In a joint press point, Stoltenberg noted that Japan's National Security Strategy "recognizes that China's behavior is 'a matter of serious concern.'" 

He added:  

NATO agrees. China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons. Bullying its neighbors, and threatening Taiwan. Trying to control critical infrastructure.

Significantly, the two sides reached a consensus on their understanding of China without hesitation.

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Prime Minister's Office on January 31. (© Sankei by Yasuhiro Yajima)

NATO and Japan, Shared Concerns

Their joint statement observed that the security of the Indo-Pacific region and Europe are closely related. It confirmed the strengthening of cooperation between Japan and NATO as "reliable and natural partners." 

In the joint press point, Stoltenberg said: 

If President Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force. This is dangerous. Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions.

What is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow. 

Mr Stoltenberg added his gratitude for Japan's support to Ukraine, and his point is correct.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori questioned the Kishida government's support for Ukraine. He said on January 25: "It is almost inconceivable that Russia will lose. Is it right to put so much effort into Ukraine?" 

Although his view is shared by very few in Japan, we must express our disagreement with Mr Mori. His view does not take into account that the response to the Ukraine issue is linked to the very foundation of Japan's security. 

Russia's aggression is a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, and the Russian military is committing war crimes. Japan should cooperate with NATO to deter both tyrannical China and Russia.

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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun