THE 10TH TOKYO-BEIJING FORUM:Japanese, Chinese defense experts exchange views on bilateral security issues

October 01, 2014


A panel discussion as part of the dialogue on security issues was held under the theme "Peace and Crisis Management in Northeast Asia," specifically focusing on measures to establish a bilateral crisis management system and on how to identify requirements to stabilize the whole region.

Yuji Miyamoto, chairman of the Miyamoto Institute of Asian Research and a former Japanese ambassador to China, acted as chair for Japan, and Zhang Tuosheng, director of the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, for China.

Taking part as panelists from China were Zhu Chenghu, a professor at the Institute for Strategic Studies of the People's Liberation Army National Defense University, Yao Yunzhu of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Wu Jinan, director and senior fellow of the Department of Japanese Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS), Wu Jilu of the Institute for Ocean Development Strategy, the State Oceanic Administration, Ma Junwei, deputy director at the Institute of Japan Studies, the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), and Wu Huaizhong, a researcher at the Institute of Japanese Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

The Japanese panelists were Hideaki Kaneda, a vice admiral (retired) of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and a director of the Okazaki Institute, Gen Nakatani, a special assistant to the secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party and a member of the House of Representatives, Osamu Onoda, a senior fellow at Harvard University and a former lieutenant general in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), Ken Jimbo, an associate professor at the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University, Kazuhiko Togo, a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry's International Legal Affairs Bureau and currently director of the Institute for World Affairs at Kyoto Sangyo University, Ichiro Fujisaki, a former Japanese ambassador to the U.S. and currently a distinguished visiting professor at Sophia University, and Noboru Yamaguchi, a professor at the National Defense Academy of Japan.

At the outset, Kaneda Associate Professor at the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University pointed out the importance of establishing a bilateral "maritime communication mechanism" designed to avoid accidental military confrontations between the countries as part of crisis management in Northeast Asia, citing the "Japan-Russia Maritime Accident Prevention Agreement" as a successful example. He explained the functions of the proposed mechanism such as holding annual meetings, establishing a hotline between authorities, drawing up rules for entering into agreements and the conclusion of agreements (accident prevention).

Zhu forwarded a six-point proposal concerning the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which includes the observance of past understandings, the avoidance of menacing and intimidating actions, and the realization of demilitarization. Furthermore, Zhu came out with a list of 25 measures for the establishment of peace in Northeast Asia, which includes the drawing up of rules for relief and rescue activities, establishing a hotline and promotion of personnel exchanges among military personnel.

Then, Chair Zhang pointed out, "This critical situation arises out of a Cold War mentality," and proposed Japan and China should reconfirm the agreement on the basis of a concept of a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests," stipulated in the joint statement signed by both governments in 2008.

Rather than a maritime crisis management system, Yamaguchi expressed concern over the increased close contacts between the aircraft of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force and those of China's Air Force. He pointed out the necessity of establishing rules for pilots of both sides to avoid accidental incidents.

As for the Air Defense Identification Zone, Yao from China insisted on its legitimacy, pointing out that all three countries (Japan, China and South Korea) have their respective ADIZs and it will not harm the current status but maintain each country's security, which is in line with international practice. He pointed out the importance of dialogue between the two countries, however.

Onoda, a former JASDF member, explained the differences between Western and Japanese ADIZs, and expressed his view that China's measure was excessive and that the Senkaku Islands should be excluded from the ADIZ.

Wu Huaizhong indicated that the notion of "New Normal," propagated by China, would not bring tension to Northeast Asia and noted that Japan is responding excessively to Chinese vessels' passage in normal waters. He proposed both sides develop a new consensus by changing negative factors to positive ones.

Jimbo from Japan mentioned the two countries' resumed talks over maritime issues for the first time in two years, and pointed out the necessity of trust-building and communication between the administrative agencies concerned. He also expressed concern over the conflicts in the South China Sea and that the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles might increase the chances of unexpected conflicts.

Wu Jilu dealt with crisis management from a legal perspective, stating that "There are unresolved water boundary issues in the world and we have to confront the matter and respond, even though solutions may not be easy."

Onoda pointed out the importance of on-site control that must be strictly maintained as a premise for the establishment of a maritime communication system and voiced concern over lax discipline such as the abnormally close approaches made by Chinese Air Force planes around the Senkakus.

In response to this, Zhang summarized that the absence of a maritime communication mechanism is causing an actual crisis, adding that bilateral cooperation on this matter is important.

Debate at the second half of the sub-session

The second half of the discussion was on the subject of "What Should Be the Common Benefits for Japan and China Within the Context of the Future of Bilateral Relations."

Yao referred to the dangers in the air as discussed in the first half of the discussion, and said that the Chinese government insists that pilots are highly trained to ensure the safety of flights.

Nakatani mentioned the Shanghai Declaration of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in 2014 and asked about the rationale of the declaration, which he said was aimed at pursuing China's self-centered goal of becoming a major power.

In response, Yao said it's in line with the policies of the 2011 white paper on the peaceful development of China, noting that it aimed at ensuring an economically sustainable security system.

Regarding Yao's proposals, Kaneda pointed out the necessity of pursuing common benefits as a premise to establish such a mechanism, and it should be backed up by international laws and the sharing of common values. In response, Yao said the definition of value was difficult though we had to observe laws.

Yamaguchi said the countries should refer to the European Union as a model and Yao said the EU also started from the pursuit of common economic benefits; therefore, the countries should have common themes in Asia. Togo agreed on the point that there might be common benefits such as energy resource development.

Jimbo pointed out that no security setup would work if it can't control the balance of power. Zhang also noted the necessity of new dialogue. In relation to this issue, the Chinese side asked Japan to cease Cabinet members' visits to Yasukuni Shrine to realize a Japan-China summit. Miyamoto proposed the countries should seek a way to meet both demands.

As for other security issues, Onoda said "Nuclear weapons control will be the root issue for a security mechanism in Northeast Asia. To resolve this, we have to continue strategic dialogue with countries holding nuclear weapons. It should be dealt with as the highest priority to avoid the risk of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists."

Wu said he supports a multilevel collaborative security strategy as suggested by the Tokyo Foundation. In response, Jimbo proposed that no political considerations should be needed for untraditional security fields such as disaster support.

Finally, there were questions from general observers. In answering a question, Yao made the notable proposal that China might be able to declare that it won't attack Japan with nuclear weapons. (END)

The talks were brought to a close after a lively exchange of views.

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