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Japanese Foreign Policy

Volume 600: debated on Tuesday 20 October 2015

4. What discussions he has had with his Japanese counterpart on that country’s constitutional constraints on foreign policy initiatives. (901650)

I have congratulated the Japanese Diet on passing security legislation that will allow Japan to play a greater role in maintaining international peace and security. When I visited Tokyo in August, I discussed with Foreign Minister Kishida how the UK and Japan can work together to uphold the rules-based international system, once these changes have been introduced.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement in New York that the UK will make a greater contribution to UN peacekeeping operations, does my right hon. Friend agree that we should encourage Japan to use its special defence forces to contribute to UN peacekeeping as well?

Yes, I do. By passing this legislation, the Japanese have allowed themselves more freedom to co-operate with international partners in preserving international peace, and we are very keen that that includes more Japanese peacekeepers on UN peacekeeping operations as well as Japanese logistic support to other operations carried out by partners and allies around the world.

Some of the concerns of the Japanese have centred around the activity of the People’s Republic of China in the East China sea and the South China sea regions, particularly the recent dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu-Senkaku islands. When the Foreign Secretary is in discussions with the Japanese and the Chinese, will he try to build some sense of peace and stability in that region to try to allay the concerns not just of Japan but of other countries in the region?

First, let me congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his very good pronunciation of those particular islands. Our position on this is clear: we do not take a position on the different claims to sovereignty over disputed territory in the East China or the South China seas. What we are clear about is two things: first, these disputes must be resolved in accordance with international law and peacefully; and secondly, the international right to freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight must be preserved. That is the position that we consistently take and that we consistently make to Japanese, Chinese and other south-east Asian interlocutors.