Japan's new military treaties can facilitate US provocation in Indo-Pacific: experts
Published: Aug 09, 2023 10:47 PM
Cartoon: Vitaly Podvitski

Cartoon: Vitaly Podvitski

As Japan keeps pushing forward its new military pacts with Australia, the Philippines, France and the UK, experts said such treaties can legalize the presence and expand the activity area of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF), which could in the end help the US gather more allies in the Indo-Pacific region to contain China.

The defense and security pact between Japan and Australia, dubbed the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), will take effect on Sunday, Japan's Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday. 

According to the ministry, the agreement aims to facilitate mutually beneficial defense cooperation by establishing a framework for the conduct of such cooperation and by defining the status of the visiting forces and the civilian components.

The deal will apply when Japan's SDF and the Australian military hold joint drills and other activities in each other's country, NHK News reported. It covers matters such as the handling of weapons and ammunition and the right to exercise jurisdiction in the event of incidents or accidents.

"The SDF's area of operation would be extended from the East China Sea to the South China Sea, and then in the direction of the Indian Ocean after the Japan-Australia RAA takes effect, providing convenience for Japan to deploy troops in Australia," Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Signed on January 6, 2022, the deal is Japan's first of its kind to enter into force since its Status of Forces Agreement with the US. Besides Australia, Japan is also pushing forward military treaties with other like-minded countries to enhance deterrence against Beijing, Japanese media reports have said.

According to Kyodo News, Japan is also coordinating with the Philippines and France on military agreements for smoother joint training. Deepening relations with France and the Philippines is indispensable in order to contain China, Kyodo News reported citing sources close to the Japanese government.

In January 2021, Japan signed a reciprocal access agreement with the UK in London but it has yet to come into effect.

Experts said that although Japan's specific intentions differ with its various military pacts, they can all serve US efforts to gather the resources of its allies in the Indo-Pacific region to conduct provocative actions against regional countries like China and Russia.

"Similar to the role of the treaty with Australia, a military pact with the Philippines will enable Japan's Air SDF and Maritime SDF to land in the Philippines and use the military facilities there to deploy combat troops, so that Japan can intervene more in the South China Sea to match the US' provocative moves," said Wei.

Wei said Japan's military pacts with the UK and France are aimed at turning itself as a military guest house where Japan's military facilities are open for the US and its NATO allies so that they can conduct permanent military deployments.