首相欧州歴訪 防衛装備協力で連携強化せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 4:00 am, May 05, 2014
Japan, European countries should strengthen ties in defense equipment
首相欧州歴訪 防衛装備協力で連携強化せよ

Japan and Europe are partners that give priority to keeping international order and promoting free trade. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to six European countries should give momentum to further solidifying strategic relations with Europe.

During their meeting, Abe and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to launch so-called two-plus-two talks between their foreign and defense ministers at an early date and promote joint development of defense equipment and technology. Technology for protective clothing against chemicals was among their immediate joint development projects.

The agreement was made by applying the new “three principles on transferring defense equipment” that the Cabinet approved last month to replace the previous three principles on arms exports.

Abe is scheduled to hold talks with French President Francois Hollande on Monday, during which they are expected to agree on joint development of such defense equipment as unmanned underwater vehicles.

The government has already agreed with Australia to make vessel fluid dynamics a subject for their joint research.

Such bilateral cooperation in the field of defense equipment will not only improve defense technology, but also curb development costs. The efforts are likely to embody a “proactive contribution to peace,” a diplomatic policy pursued by the Abe administration.

The administration should therefore collect intelligence in earnest and carry out the necessary discussions to determine what defense equipment and technology should be developed to maximize the benefits for both parties in an agreement.

Sending a message to China

In separate meetings, Abe confirmed with Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel the importance of obeying international law in connection with the East Asian situation. Moreover, a joint statement by Abe and Cameron clearly stated that the two nations confirmed their commitment to the freedom of navigation and overflight.

These actions were all made in light of China’s attempts to change the status quo by force through such actions as establishing an air defense identification zone. Japan should use every opportunity to gain international solidarity in urging China to abide by international rules.

On another issue, it was significant that Abe concurred with the British and German leaders on the necessity of working toward concluding the thorny talks on an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union next year.

The EU is somewhat behind in its talks with Japan compared with the talks between Tokyo and Washington, which made significant progress toward sealing a final accord on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework.

Issues including the EU’s removal of high tariffs on automobiles and TVs are at the center of the Japan-EU negotiations. Taking advantage of the current momentum, both sides should expedite talks to find common ground.

At a lecture in London, Abe urged businesses to invest in Japan.

Referring to the nation’s regulatory barriers as solid bedrock, Abe stressed that “the drill bit is spinning at the fastest possible speed” to break through that bedrock. He also indicated his willingness to lower the effective corporate tax, saying, “We’re going to improve our corporate taxation still further.”

That Abe made international pledges carries weight. The prime minister should exercise leadership in realizing regulatory reform as well as fixing corporate taxation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 4, 2014)

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