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Japan follows US to return to SE Asia

(People's Daily Online)

08:06, January 18, 2013

Key Words:ASEAN; Shinzo Abe ; Diaoyu Islands
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to leave for Southeast Asia on Jan. 16, paying a visit to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. Before that, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida just returned from the visits to the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei and Australia.

There are political and economic considerations for Japanese leaders' frequent visits to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

Politically speaking, Japan has always been following the footsteps of the United States, and frequent visits to ASEAN countries are aimed at keeping pace with the U.S. strategy of returning to Asia. In addition, Japan hopes to take the opportunity to court the ASEAN countries, so that it can form an alliance on the East China Sea and South China Sea issues and take a favorable position in the establishment of Asia-Pacific political and security pattern in the future.

Economically speaking, Shinzo Abe is eager to revive the Japanese economy after reelected as the prime minister. As one of the most dynamic regions in the world economy, Southeast Asia is obviously important to Japanese economic growth.

Japanese foreign minister's visits did not reach a result as he expected

Fumio Kishida mentioned China at every place during his just-concluded trip to Southeast Asia. He came to an agreement with Philippine foreign minister on strengthening bilateral cooperation in maritime security on Jan. 10, in an attempt to contain China by deepening cooperation with the Philippines.

On Jan. 11, he exchanged views with Singaporean foreign minister on the Diaoyu Islands issue and the situation in the South China Sea. On Jan. 12, he said in a talk with Bruneian foreign and trade ministers that dealing with China was a common issue of both Japan and Brunei. Singapore and Brunei hoped Japan to exercise restraint on the Diaoyu Islands issue and maintain good relations with China. Australian foreign minister did not also think that deepening relations with Japan conflicts with strengthening of Australia-China and Japan-China relations.

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