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YCAPS attends the 4th Triennial JMSDF Maritime Security Symposium

On Sunday, October 6th , three YCAPS members—Mr. Dave Krug, COL Chuck Menza (USAF, Ret.), and ENS Will Yale (USN)--were given a tour of the JS Izumo (DDH-183) and attended the 4th triennial JMSDF Maritime Security Symposium, cosponsored by the JMSDF and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s (SPF) Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI), and held in conjunction with the JMSDF Fleet Review to be held on October 14th in Sagami Bay.

The symposium featured a keynote address by ADM Katsutoshi Kawano (JMSDF, Ret.) and panelist commentary by the Hon. Satoshi Morimoto, former Minister of Defense of Japan; RADM Hiroshi Egawa (JMSDF), Commander, Escort Flotilla One; Dr. Atsushi Sunami, President, OPRI; RADM James E. Pitts (USN), Commander, Submarine Group 7; Amb. Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary of India and Member, Advisory Council, Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF); and Dr. David Brewster, Senior Research Fellow, National Security College, Australian National University (ANU).

 

Both the keynote speaker and the panelists overwhelmingly focused on the maritime challenge posed by China, and Japan’s and the Indo-Pacific region’s response to said challenge, with a special focus on the Quad (Japan, the US, India, and Australia).

ADM Kawano offered an historical background to the JMSDF’s ever-increasing set of missions and attendant capabilities—from the JMSDF’s founding in 1954 as a predominately anti-submarine warfare and minesweeping force, to the establishment of the “1000 Nautical Mile Defense Initiative” and the increased importance of protecting Japanese commercial shipping through sea lines of communication (SLOCs) towards the end of the 20th century, to the establishment of Japan’s right to collective self-defense in 2015.

Dr. Sunami of OPRI gave an overview of many of the foreign policy initiatives introduced under Prime Minister Abe (“Values-Oriented Diplomacy,” “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map,” “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and the “Quad/Quad+”) and how they impact Japan’s maritime security strategy. Dr. Sunami also introduced a new concept that OPRI had workshopped with the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC--the “Blue Infinity Loop,” connecting the Indo-Pacific to the Arctic.

Dr. Brewster of ANU emphasized Japan and the Quad’s response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying that the Quad must provide genuine alternatives to the BRI and not just a heavy hand. Dr. Brewster gave as an example the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership between Australia, Japan, the US, and New Zealand, and suggested that the Quad establish a “Quad of Coast Guards” as a way of engaging states throughout the Indo-Pacific in a less overtly militarized fashion. Dr. Brewster also offered the idea of different, overlapping “minilateral” cooperative groups of states as a supplement to the Quad.

Amb. Sibal discussed the ways in which China was seeking to use its BRI investments to establish overland economic corridors as an alternative to the Strait of Malacca, gain access to/monopolize certain natural resources, and establish dual-use ports in countries like the Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. China, Amb. Sibal said, was seeking to “present a fait accompli” in the South China Sea; in response, India was both improving its own deterrent and inking a number of logistics, interoperability, and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) agreements with partners such as the US, Japan, Australia, and France. Later, during the Q&A session, Amb. Sibal expanded on his comments on China, saying that without China’s aggressiveness, there would be “no need” for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept, and that this was the first time in history in which “one country was seeking to dominate both the Eurasian landmass and both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.” Amb. Sibal also added that the US’ abrogation of the INF treaty and the potential deployment of IRBMs to US or allied territory in the Western Pacific sends a powerful deterrent signal to China.

RADM Egawa expanded on ADM Kawano’s historical overview, describing some of the JMSDF’s more recent deployments, especially the spring/summer 2019 deployment of the JS Izumo (DDH-183) and JS Murasame (DD-101) to Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam, during which time the JMSDF conducted 13 exercises with 14 navies.
 

Finally, RADM Pitts provided a summary of the US’ many new ship and aircraft deployments in 7 th Fleet in recent years, connecting such deployments to the previous CNO ADM Richardson’s “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” released in 2018.

Overall, the JMSDF Maritime Security Symposium provided a comprehensive perspective on the maritime security challenges facing both Japan and the Indo-Pacific from experts throughout the region. Dr. Brewster of ANU emphasized Japan and the Quad’s response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying that the Quad must provide genuine alternatives to the BRI and not just a heavy hand. Dr. Brewster gave as an example the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership between Australia, Japan, the US, and New Zealand, and suggested that the Quad establish a “Quad of Coast Guards” as a way of engaging states throughout the Indo-Pacific in a less overtly militarized fashion. Dr. Brewster also offered the idea of different, overlapping “minilateral” cooperative groups of states as a supplement to the Quad.

Amb. Sibal discussed the ways in which China was seeking to use its BRI investments to establish overland economic corridors as an alternative to the Strait of Malacca, gain access to/monopolize certain natural resources, and establish dual-use ports in countries like the Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. China, Amb. Sibal said, was seeking to “present a fait accompli” in the South China Sea; in response, India was both improving its own deterrent and inking a number of logistics, interoperability, and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) agreements with partners such as the US, Japan, Australia, and France. Later, during the Q&A session, Amb. Sibal expanded on his comments on China, saying that without China’s aggressiveness, there would be “no need” for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept, and that this was the first time in history in which “one country was seeking to dominate both the Eurasian landmass and both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.” Amb. Sibal also added that the US’ abrogation of the INF treaty and the potential deployment of IRBMs to US or allied territory in the Western Pacific sends a powerful deterrent signal to China.

Finally, RADM Pitts provided a summary of the US’ many new ship and aircraft deployments in 7th Fleet in recent years, connecting such deployments to the previous CNO ADM Richardson’s “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” released in 2018.

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