Allies Japan and the United States, wary of China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, are likely to come to agreements with Southeast Asian nations and cooperate with them to strengthen maritime security within the region. The South China Sea is a possible flash point area where a number of ASEAN nations have territorial disputes with Beijing, even as the larger nation is not showing signs of backing down from its territorial claims.
U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to come to Japan on an official visit from April 23-25, and will most likely meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe within those dates. Sources say that the two leaders are committed to working closely to address security concerns among the ASEAN nations. Obama will use the first leg of his Asian tour, where he has scheduled stops in South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia, as an opportunity to keep track of China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. The Philippines and Vietnam, particularly, have specific territorial disputes with China that are problematic and have recently been confrontational. In this situation, Japan has decided to provide 10 patrol vessels to the Philippines and has expressed support for the latter’s 4,000 page claim document submitted to an international tribunal. with the both the U.S. and Japan considering providing patrol vessels to Vietnam as well.
Disaster relief is another major area the two leaders hope to discuss. Japan and the U.S. plan to strengthen the collaboration between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military for instances like the super-typhoon in the Philippines last year. Obama has decided to extend his stay in Japan for another day, as it was originally planned only for two days. This was based on a direct request from Japan, which sought to host him as a state guest.
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