Japan wants greater role in Asia - CBS46 News

Japan wants greater role in Asia

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his nation would continue to adhere to a policy of pacifism. (Source: CBS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his nation would continue to adhere to a policy of pacifism. (Source: CBS)

SINGAPORE (CBS) - Japan wants to play a greater defense role in Asia to promote peace and prosperity amid tensions over territorial disputes, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday.

In a speech in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an international security conference, Abe raised concerns about escalating tensions in the South China Sea, and urged all countries in the region to observe the rule of law and not use force or threats.

Abe also outlined new guidelines that will ease Japan's self-imposed limits on military exports and defensive activities, and pledged to contribute more to the region in those areas, as well as through official development aid.

"Japan intends to play an even greater and more proactive role than it has until now in making peace in Asia and the world more certain," Abe said.

Abe said efforts "to consolidate changes to the status quo by aggregating one fait accompli after another can only be strongly condemned," an apparent reference to China's recent assertiveness in pressing its territorial claims in the region.

He did not identify China by name, but praised the Philippines and Vietnam for their efforts to resolve the disputes through dialogue.

"Japan offers its utmost support for the efforts of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, as they work to ensure the security of the seas and the skies, and thoroughly maintain freedom of navigation and freedom of flight," Abe said. "Japan intends to play an even greater and more proactive role than it has until now, in making peace in Asia and the world something more certain. Taking our alliance with the United States as the foundation, and respecting our partnership with ASEAN, Japan will spare no effort in turning regional stability, peace, and prosperity into something rock solid."

He also assured the gathering of Japan's continued commitment to following a path of peace.

"I would like all of you gathered here today to understand that point in a way that is absolutely crystal clear, that Japan has been adhering to pacifism and we will continue to move forward as a pacifist nation," he said.

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