Japan’s cabinet on Tuesday approved reciprocal access agreements (RAAs) previously signed with the United Kingdom and Australia, signaling Japan’s ambition to diversify its defense partnership and grow militarily.
According to the Nikkei newspaper, the RAA will simplify entry procedures for personnel and ammunition during Japan’s joint military exercises with the two countries. Japan signed the agreements on January 6, 2022 with Australia and on January 11, 2023 with the United Kingdom.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told China Direct on Tuesday that the agreements would ensure convenient entry into each other’s military bases and facilitate military cooperation and coordination.
The Financial Times reported in November 2022 that Japan was in the preliminary stages of considering a similar pact with the Philippines.
The deal could pave the way for Japan’s participation in joint US-Philippine patrols in the South China Sea in which the UK and Australia would participate, forming a true military bloc, Song said, adding that such of intertwined military pact reflects a dangerous trend. of AUKUS’ expansion, Song said.
AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US, would unveil a submarine plan in mid-March. The three could discuss joint operations in the Asia-Pacific given the strong US push for its Indo-Pacific strategy and intelligence sharing, experts say.
Japan, through the two RAAs, is taking an important step towards the AUKUS alliance, which may engage more countries in the future to become AUKUS+, Song said.
Although the newly approved RAAs do not involve the United States, the strategic layout contains strong American will.
Song noted that compared with NATO’s expansion in Asia, which Japan is also actively pushing forward, the AUKUS+ trend poses a greater threat to stability in the region. The expert identified Canada as a potential member in the future according to the US strategic plan.
According to Nikkei, Japan is seeking to purchase 400 American Tomahawk missiles for a long-range deterrent. Deployment could begin in fiscal year 2026.
Japan, besides coordinating with the United States as an obedient ally, is desperately trying to diversify its defense relations, said Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, at China Direct. Japan has long dreamed of expanding its sphere of influence in political and military aspects, he said.
The RAA and perhaps other such agreements, Japan’s change of policy from its pacifist constitution renouncing war, the revision of security documents to allow for counter-attack capabilities and a bold increase in 26% of the military budget for 2023 are all dangerous steps Japan has taken to ease its strategic anxiety, analysts say.
However, Japan’s introduction of more external forces into the Asia-Pacific region and its growing aggressiveness will only further complicate the already tense security situation and worsen the geopolitical environment for all in the region, including Japan itself. -even, they said.