Facing a typical menace from an more and more assertive China and an unpredictable North Korea, Canada and Japan are shifting to deepen their safety and defence cooperation within the Indo-Pacific area.
Ottawa and Tokyo outlined six areas of bilateral cooperation in the course of the first face-to-face assembly of Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and his Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu on the margins of the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting in London yesterday.
Topping the checklist is enhancing political, safety and defence cooperation “to maintain and promote the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region,” says a press release from Global Affairs Canada.
Canada and Japan are pledging to work collectively “to address unilateral actions that undermine regional stability and the rules-based international maritime order based on international law, consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the assertion says — a veiled reference to China’s aggressive actions within the South China Sea.
Ottawa and Tokyo are additionally planning to deepen their cooperation in multinational efforts to tighten the enforcement of UN sanctions towards North Korea — by cracking down on Pyongyang’s sanction-busting actions, notably ship-to-ship transfers at sea.
On April 23, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan introduced that Canada is extending Operation Neon to counter North Korea’s maritime sanctions evasion by one other two years. As a part of the operation, Canada has dispatched warships and maritime surveillance plane into the Pacific since 2019 to implement UN Security Council sanctions towards North Korea.
Garneau and Toshimitsu additionally mentioned additional cooperation between Canada and Japan on UN peacekeeping operations, relations with China, the navy coup in Myanmar, worldwide commerce, local weather change and the upcoming Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“The Indo-Pacific region will continue to be a driving force for growth in the coming decades,” Garneau mentioned in a media assertion. “Today, Canada and Japan build on a strong and longstanding partnership to strengthen cooperation to advance common interests in the region and ensure it remains free and open.”
Building a brand new alliance of Pacific democracies
David Welch is a professor of political science on the University of Waterloo who specializes within the Indo-Pacific area. He mentioned the two international locations’ deepening cooperation on safety is a welcome step in addressing the unrealized potential of Canada–Japan relations.
While the 2 international locations usually get pleasure from very pleasant ties, the connection between Ottawa and Tokyo has a whole lot of room to develop, mentioned Welch.
Despite their distinction in measurement and inhabitants, Canada and Japan have quite a bit in frequent, he added. They’re each high-income, extremely developed, liberal democracies dedicated to a rules-based liberal worldwide order. Both Canada and Japan are enthusiastic members of the G7, G20, and different governance improvements such because the International Criminal Court, he added.
“They are textbook practitioners of middle power diplomacy,” Welch mentioned. “And their geopolitical interests and challenges overlap almost perfectly. Both depend economically upon a peaceful, stable East Asia. Both are strongly committed to non-proliferation. And both struggle to manage relations with China and the United States.”
Canada and Japan must be working towards a full safety partnership as formal allies, Welch argued in a current paper. Such a proper alliance can be in each international locations’ pursuits, he added.
For Tokyo, it will be a tangible signal of full membership in an important safety group and a sign to Japan’s neighbours that it enjoys respect and standing, Welch mentioned.
“For Canada, it would rebalance its current portfolio of formal alliance commitments, which are entirely and increasingly anachronistically Atlanticist,” Welch wrote. “It boggles the mind that Canada has formal alliance obligations to Montenegro, but not to Japan — or any other Asia-Pacific country, for that matter.”
Building a ‘safety group’
University of Calgary defence skilled Rob Huebert mentioned Canada must be creating nearer defence ties with the entire democracies within the Far East.
“We have to start talking about the development of a security community within the region, akin to NATO in terms of being able to meet the rising Chinese threat,” Huebert mentioned. “The only way that we’re going to be able to stop it in any meaningful way is a proper alliance system — alliance, not just cooperation.”
This alliance would come with all of the liberal democracies within the area: the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Huebert mentioned.
Canada and Japan have taken lively steps already towards constructing higher navy interoperability, he added. Royal Canadian Navy warships and submarine searching plane of the Royal Canadian Air Force often take part in joint workout routines with the Japan Self Defense Force and different regional powers.