Japanese PM weighs in on NATO membership

Lazy eyes listen


Japan has no ambitions to join NATO, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

According to Reuters, he informed the national parliament on Wednesday that Tokyo will not join the US-led military alliance in any form.

Earlier this month, Japanese Ambassador to the United States Koji Tomita told Nikkei Asia that Japan was “working” on establishing a NATO liaison office in Tokyo, the bloc’s first in Asia.

According to the same source, the mission, which is set to begin next year, will be aimed at facilitating NATO consultations with Japan and other Asia-Pacific allies such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea in light of geopolitical challenges posed by China and Russia.

Kishida told lawmakers that NATO is considering creating a liaison office in the country. He did, however, add that he was “not aware of any decision made” inside the bloc about the mission.

The alliance has recently openly acknowledged its Indo-Pacific ambitions. For the first time, the bloc’s regional partners attended a NATO summit last June. This year’s event has also been extended to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. On July 11 and 12, the 2023 summit will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Russia, which fiercely opposes NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe, has condemned the alliance’s efforts to expand into Asia. In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared the US and its allies’ push to establish a “global NATO” to Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan’s actions in the 1930s before World War II.

In reaction to allegations that NATO is planning to create its first liaison office in the region, China has encouraged its Asian neighbors to practice “high vigilance.” A move of this magnitude “will inevitably undermine regional peace and stability and stoke camp confrontation,” Beijing said, adding that the Asia-Pacific region was “not a wrestling ground for geopolitical competition.”