Several weeks ago, Prashanth Parameswaran described here the attention that the government of Shinzo Abe has been lavishing on members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Earlier this week, another apparent step in that process took place in Tokyo when Japan's vice defence minister, Akinori Eto, met with ASEAN representatives to discuss regional security isues. Agence France Presse has the story:
The meeting is the first high-ranking defence dialogue of its kind since hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office late December following a landslide victory in general elections.
"Our country changed governments late last year," Eto said. "Under the new regime, we want to reinforce cooperation in security and defence with ASEAN countries and contribute to peace in the region," he added.
Ahead of the meeting, the ASEAN participants met Abe late Tuesday and voiced their high expectations from Japan "in dealing with various security issues of the Asia-Pacific region," the defence ministry said in a statement.
Japan, along with several members of ASEAN have locked horns with China over separate territorial disputes.