Show caption Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s foreign minister, in Washington. ‘Ongoing unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China seas’ are of growing concern, he says. Photograph: Tom Brenner/AFP/Getty Images Japan ‘Logic of brute force’ is rising in Indo-Pacific, says Japan amid China concerns Japan’s foreign minister tells Washington audience world at ‘historical crossroads’ and that Russian invasion of Ukraine must not succeed Reuters in Washington Sat 30 Jul 2022 02.25 BST Share on Facebook
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Japan’s foreign minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, has sounded the alarm about China’s behaviour in the Indo-Pacific during a visit to Washington, saying the “logic of brute force” was gaining more traction over the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific.
Referring to Chinese and Russian joint bomber flights near Japan in May, Hayashi said stronger military coordination between China and Russia was emerging as a security concern. “We are currently standing at a historical crossroads, one fraught with a sense of crisis,” he told the Centre for Strategic and International Studies thinktank on Friday. “We are facing a watershed moment.
“Even in this region, the ‘logic of brute force’ is gaining more traction over the ‘rule of law’, and the strategic balance in the region is increasingly a challenge for Japan and the US,” he said, referring to the Indo-Pacific.
Hayashi said that “ongoing unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China seas” were of growing concern and referenced mounting China-Taiwan tension by saying that stability across the Taiwan Strait was of “extreme importance”.
While repeatedly highlighting threats posed by China, Hayashi largely avoided mentioning it by name, but said it was essential to maintain a “high-level, candid dialogue” with Beijing and that cooperation was also important with it when necessary, such as on climate change and North Korea.
Hayashi also referred to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said such moves should never be allowed elsewhere. He said it was essential that it go down as “clear failure”, or other countries would attempt to change the status quo by force.
Hayashi said there was an urgent need to strengthen the regional deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US alliance and that the Tokyo government planned to substantially increase defence budgets and fundamentally strengthen defence capabilities within five years.
Hayashi, who was in Washington to launch a new “two-plus-two” economic dialogue with the US, said it was necessary to keep all options – including “counterstrike capabilities” – on the table and to strengthen high-tech defence capabilities.
He also said it was crucial that the credibility of the US extended deterrence be strengthened – a reference to the US nuclear weapons umbrella that protects allies including Japan – while calling on China, which he said was “rapidly building up its nuclear force in an opaque manner”, to take part in efforts to reduce nuclear risk.