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Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership Adding Substantial Contours

Discussion in 'China & Asia Pacific' started by southeastasiansea, Mar 23, 2014.

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  1. southeastasiansea

    southeastasiansea REGISTERED

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    Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership Adding Substantial Contours
    Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang is currently on a State-visit to Japan in what can be read as a calibrated attempt by both Vietnam and Japan to adding substantial contours to their existing Strategic Partnership to meet the security challenges confronting them.
    The Vietnamese President in his ongoing visit is being accorded significant honours of a State Banquet by His Imperial Highness, The Emperor of Japan and also an Address to the Japanese Parliament. This should be indicative of the significance that Japan attaches to its strategic relationship with Vietnam.
    The stark strategic reality that has emerged in recent years, more forcefully, is that China has emerged as a major security concern and military threat in the Asia Pacific and seems set to challenge the established security template in the Western Pacific to begin with. Japan and Vietnam located in the North and South of the Western Pacific and as major military powers and having issues of territorial sovereignty with China are prime focus of China’s strategic ire.
    Japan recognising the strategically pivotal location and role of Vietnam in South East Asia has constantly invested strategically, politically and economically in Vietnam over decades. Urgency to add more substantial contours to the Strategic Partnership arises seemingly from the aggressive military brinkmanship imposed by China in recent years on Vietnam in the South China Sea followed by East China Sea against Japan.
    The urgency of reinforcing the Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership is visible from the frequency of high-level exchange of visits and strategic dialogues in 2013 and 2014. Japanese PM Abe visited Vietnam in January 2013 followed by visit of Vietnamese PM to Japan in December 2013 and now the State-visit of Vietnamese President from March 16-19 2014. Interspersed were official level dialogues between the two countries.
    The emphasis going by the statements on all three occasions was on bolstering of the Strategic Partnership between Vietnam and Japan. Preceding the presidential visit to Japan, the Vietnamese President in an interaction with the Japanese media in Hanoi besides touching on the political, economic, and scientific cooperation between the two nations stressed that during his visit to Japan he would seek greater security and defence cooperation from Japan.
    Emphasis in this direction was further added by officials in Hanoi quoted in The Gulf News to the following effect:
    “The relationship between Hanoi and Tokyo has entered a new phase and is a strategic partnership with deeper trust contributing to peace and stability in the region and all over the world,”
    “Vietnam with a history of defeating many empires in the world is now together with Japan striving for a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.”
    Noticeably, Japan and Vietnam seem to have entered a new phase of their existing Strategic Partnership where Japan and Vietnam are likely to seek greater strategic convergences in how to best craft initiatives which could ensure maritime security in the maritime stretch of the Western Pacific.
    Vietnamese President during this interaction with the Japanese media quoted above made the following points:
    Vietnam and Japan would discuss raising Strategic Partnership to a higher level
    Japan’s support will be sought for Vietnamese maritime security in terms of observance of maritime safety and security conventions and adherence to UNCLOS.
    Deal for supply of naval patrol vessels by Japan to Vietnam will be discussed.
    Japanese assistance will be sought to enhance Vietnam’s maritime capabilities.
    Besides the security and defence spheres what needs to be highlighted is that Japan is deeply involved in the economic fields with Vietnam as being Vietnam’s biggest donor and foreign investor. Bilateral trade between Japan and Vietnam stood at $ 25.6 billion in 2013 and FDI in 2013 as $ 5.7 billion accounting for26.6 % of FDI in Vietnam.
    Japan is also investing heavily in terms of aid in infrastructure developments in Vietnam extending from airports, hydro-electric power stations and highways etc. Vietnam is also seeking Japanese assistance for a civilian nuclear power plant.
    So what one is witnessing is the unfolding of a Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership in the sense of “comprehensive national security” with Japan willing to underwrite the same. A strong Vietnam with its pivotal location could add substantially to Japan’s own national security needs.
    Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership should be a matter of special concern for China with the contextual background of China having adopted adversarial and militarily coercive measures against Vietnam and Japan in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. No public reactions have been aired by China other than a terse announcement of the Vietnamese President’s visit to Japan and some economic data.
    Noticeably, elsewhere in the region and globally too there has been wide coverage and comments on the strategic aspects of the growing security cooperation between Vietnam and Japan.
    Analytically, Vietnam’s strategic vision needs to be complimented in that Vietnam today has substantive “strategic partnerships” with Japan and India, Asia’s two other emerging powers and in contention with China for Asian strategic space and Asian security and stability.
    Vietnam’s strategic partnerships with Japan and India need not be viewed as the beginning of some new security alliance in Asia Pacific. It needs to be viewed as the formation of two interlinking strategic arrangements where all three countries share common strategic concerns and have a marked degree of strategic convergences in dealing with the security challenges in the Asia Pacific.
    One last point that needs to be emphasised is that the Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership and the Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership are independent of Japan and India’s relations with the United States and further that these Strategic Partnerships are between Asian powers only.
    Concluding, arising from the above one should logically expect that both Vietnam and Japan will strive to add substantive contours to the Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership in the coming years, with special reference to maritime security and aviation security in the Western Pacific so that freedom of navigation and movement is ensured in the “global commons” both maritime and aviation as per international norms. The visit of the Vietnamese President from March 16-19 2014 needs to be viewed as a defining moment in the evolution of a substantive Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership.
     
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  2. Zeus_@21

    Zeus_@21 Major SENIOR MEMBER

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  3. southeastasiansea

    southeastasiansea REGISTERED

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    Ties Strengthen between Japan and Vietnam
    Following a shady past, involving Japanese imperialist expansion and controversial ties with the United States, it seems that Japan-Vietnam relations have experienced an observable improvement, especially within the past couple of years. The implications of such close interaction are important, particularly when considering the region’s economic, political and security structure.
    Economic ties between the two nations have been on the rise for some time. With Japan suffering from a sluggish economy for many years, Vietnam’s high growth rate, coming second only to China’s since 2000, is an appealing market for Japan. Japanese firms have invested heavily, and the Vietnamese economy has modernized as a result. Furthermore, Japan was the first state to officially recognize Vietnam as a market-based economy in 2011, which has helped to signal to other states that Vietnam’s economy is healthy and legitimate.
    Japan is also the largest donor of official development aid (ODA) to Vietnam, having committed nearly $2 billion in 2012 alone. This has allowed Japan to enjoy a slight influence in some of Vietnam’s policies, pushing it (albeit very weakly) to adhere to Japan’s values of human rights and transparency. Additionally, on 2 July 2013, Japan and Vietnam entered a ‘Joint Crediting Mechanism’– a bilateral, low-carbon growth pact that allows Japanese firms to earn carbon credits, while helping Vietnam lower its own carbon emissions. With the difficulties in global environmental governance, the success of such endeavors may be an example for other states to mimic and will improve both Japan’s and Vietnam’s reputations for sustainable development.
    What is more, Vietnam is currently seen as an important future source of rare earth minerals, which are a critical component for many of Japan’s high-tech exports. By turning towards Vietnam, Japan may successfully sidestep some of the pressure from China, which in the past has used its strong hold over the rare earth minerals production market as a bargaining chip in bilateral relations. As a result, Vietnam would also enjoy a lift in its own exports.
    Importantly, Japan’s interest in Vietnam is undeniably tied to its overall attempt to boost ties with other member states of the Associations of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Although Japan has traditionally enjoyed stability in trade with most of the 10 member states, this has recently been challenged by China’s remarkable growth and need to expand. Most concerning was when China signed a Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN in 2010, diminishing Japan’s role as a regional actor and therefore making ASEAN a top priority for Japanese foreign and economic policy.
    Likewise, the two countries’ political ties have also developed strongly in recent years. For example, the new Japanese government (led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) has made diplomatic efforts to make Vietnam feel more special. After stepping into office last December, Abe chose Hanoi as his first official destination to visit, engaging in constructive discussions on a number of issues with his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Dan Tung. In turn, Vietnam has vowed to stand with Japan over the question of North Korean abductions of Japanese civilians – an important topic in Japanese policy on the Korean peninsula.
    Perhaps most crucially, Japan and Vietnam are both in the midst of a maritime dispute with China. The overlapping claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea saw another rise in tensions just the other week when Chinese ships stayed for a record 28 hours within Japanese-controlled waters. At the same time, the lesser-known dispute between Vietnam and China over large areas in the South China Sea has remained prominent, including an incident involving a Vietnamese fishing boat and a Chinese vessel in May.
    As a result, this month’s meetings concerning security cooperation between Japan and Vietnam should come as no surprise. An important element here is that Vietnam may have some influence over the way ASEAN will act in the future on territorial disputes. Along with calls from the Philippines for a multilateral and legal approach to solving the disputes, further backing from Japan and Vietnam means the position of China becomes all the weaker. This is especially true in forums such as ASEAN+3, which involve ASEAN as well as China and Japan.
    In total, Japan and Vietnam seem to benefit from a symbiotic relationship that serves many top economic and political interests of both states. But not only does this mean a stronger Vietnamese economy and support for Shinzo Abe’s economic goals, it will also ameliorate an overall relationship between Japan and ASEAN. In fact, it may even ease the advancement for wider regional ambitions, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
    Moreover, developments in the Japan-Vietnam relationship, coupled with Japan wooing other members of ASEAN, will increase the pressure on China as it faces more coordinated challenges to some of its policies. Japan will benefit from cultivating a more collaborative image at a time when it is partaking in the most comprehensive military reforms since WWII.
    Japan’s policies towards Vietnam become a key element in its overall regional ambitions, many of which Vietnam is pleased to see become reality. As such, it is highly likely that similar efforts will continue in the foreseeable future, though interference from China – whether economic, diplomatic or aggressive – is also to be expected.
    Source: http://globalriskinsights.com/2013/08/23/ties-strengthen-between-japan-and-vietnam/
     
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