Incoming Japanese premier Shinzo Abe arrives at a breakfast meeting with Japanese business leaders at a hotel in Tokyo the morning after he won the December 17 national elections. Abe is expected to take a harder line on China, and has said he’d favor changing the Japanese constitution to allow Japan to rearm.
Recent statements by Philippine’s foreign minister in support of a rearmed Japan highlight Southeast Asia’s unease over China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to grab disputed territory. More interestingly, the statements suggest that the Philippines is hoping to form a unified front, comprised of well-armed allies, to counter Chinese imperialism.
It appears that multilateral action and the formation of a bloc of aligned nations bent on thwarting Chinese territorial claims will be the preferred means of addressing ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The pronouncements by Philippine officials will no doubt ruffle feathers in Beijing. The statements are also likely to boost support for hardliners in Tokyo who support a more robust Japanese military presence and suggest that the historical scars of the Japanese occupation during World War II are fading.
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