Japan - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2016 to May 2017

:     Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) awards a contract to Japan’s NEC Corporation to help boost cyber-defense capabilities in Southeast Asia, establishing Japan as the pre-eminent provider in this sector.  NEC will provide cyber-attack defense training to officials from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

: Prime Minister Abe visits Vietnam.  Japan agrees to provide an unspecified number of new patrol vessels to enhance Vietnam’s maritime law-enforcement capabilities, supplementing six used patrol vessels previously supplied.  Tokyo also pledges an additional $1 billion in development assistance to Vietnam.

: Prime Minister Abe visits Indonesia. The two countries agree to advance a diplomatic and security dialogue on maritime cooperation and to pursue joint projects to develop a deep sea port in Patimban and the Masela gas fields. Preliminary discussions on a Jakarta-Surabaya rail line are also launched.

: Prime Minister Abe visits the Philippines, making him the first foreign leader to do so since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. They sign five agreements, in areas ranging from coast guard capacity-building to low-carbon growth.

: At the second ASEAN-Japan Defense Ministers Informal Meeting in Laos, Japan Defense Minister Tomomi Inada unveils the “Vientiane Vision,” in which Tokyo will advance defense cooperation with ASEAN states more comprehensively, with particular focus on promoting the rule of law and strengthening maritime security. The initiative is Japan’s first ASEAN-wide defense framework.

: Ninth ASEAN-Japan Information Security Policy Meeting convenes in Tokyo.  Leaders from Japan and Southeast Asia advance planning on cooperation to meet the increasing threat of cyber-attacks in the region.

:      The 19th ASEAN-Japan Summit is held in Vientiane in concert with the East Asia Summit. In the joint statement, ASEAN leaders pointedly “welcome Japan’s intention to contribute more proactively in securing peace … in the region.”

:     Japan and Laos co-host the 8th Mekong-Japan Summit in Vientiane, comprised of leaders from Japan, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The group pledges to pursue a list of priority projects in the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative.

:      On the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Vientiane, Japan joins the United States and Australia in issuing a statement urging China to refrain from constructing military outposts on disputed features in the South China Sea.

: Japan provides its first capacity-building assistance to the Philippines in international aviation and flight safety.

: Defense Minister Nakatani visits Thailand to discuss deepening Japanese-Thai defense ties. Plans include a regular dialogue between the JSDF and the Royal Thai Army (RTA), and RTA observations of Japan’s “Nankai Rescue” for the first time.

:     Defense Minister Nakatani visits Myanmar and meets Commander-in-Chief Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.  He discusses support from the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) for capacity-building for the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s Armed Forces).

:     At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Japanese Defense Minister Nakatani Gen pledges to help Southeast Asian nations strengthen their security capabilities in a speech that pointedly calls out China for its building activities in the South China Sea islands.

: In Myanmar, Foreign Minister Kishida pledges a $35.7 million bilateral assistance package, in response to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s February request for increased aid.

: Japan agrees to lease five TC-90 planes to the Philippines, which will effectively double the range of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in maritime monitoring.

:   On a visit to Bangkok, Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio announces the three-year, $7 billion Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative.

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