Commentary: In the name of international law?

Commentary: In the name of international law?

by Xinhua Writer Chen Jipeng, Zhao Jingjing

SINGAPORE, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday used international law as a disguise to stealthily advance his dream for Japan to be again a militarist power.

At the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security forum, Abe said in a speech full of innuendoes that Japan would try its best to advocate respect for international laws in the region.

But such a rhetoric is fundamentally flawed when it came from the nationalist leader who has been trying to conjure up the militarist past of Japan in a drive to re-arm his country.

The fundamental spirit of international law is to maintain peace and stability by managing disputes, whereas what Abe did was trying to divide Asian countries and stoke flare-ups in the region.

"Listening to him, you can easily sense his nationalist ego behind the thin veil," said Major General Yao Yunzhu, director of the Center on China-American Defense Relations, the Academy of Military Science, China.

"It is consistent with what he has been doing," she added.

Abe talked about international law, particularly the international law of the sea. Beneath the surface, however, he was trying to justify Japan's pursuit of revising the pacifist constitution that was put in place after World War II so that the country could be armed once again.

He lamented the capabilities of Japan's Self-Defense Forces were not enough to handle humanitarian operations, while at the same time could not help revealing his excitement at Japan being able to export its "superb defense equipment."

As one of the world's largest and most advanced economies, Japan has the capacity to arm itself to the teeth in a short time if it is allowed to. The Japanese navy is one of the most powerful.

Abe also said that he would give patrol vessels to the Philippines and is pushing forward a plan to give Vietnam such vessels, too, to support their maritime claims. He did not name China, but both the Philippines and Vietnam have had overlapping claims with China.

The fundamental approach to its national security, based on Abe 's speech, is to seek allies in the region to go against other countries. The Japanese prime minister said he would promote the new policy of "proactive contribution to peace," a translation of the Japanese term that can also be rendered as "proactive pacifism. "

This should be all the more worrying when it becomes the banner of a country that invaded and occupied a large part of Asia and still is reluctant to come to terms with its militarist past.

In an era of regional integration, such an approach to regional security should be abandoned, as cooperative security is the only way out to achieve shared security in the region.

The existence of traditional and non-traditional security threats also means that the approach to regional security should be comprehensive. The countries concerned should pursue common security by maximizing their common interests.

The only way out, therefore, is to pursue cooperative security instead of raising voices on differences.

The strategies adopted by Japan will bring risks to the region as they will drive the discord among Asian nations, which is more likely to eventually lead to losses than gains for all.

Asian countries should have a clear assessment of the regional security situation and not be swayed by negative influences. China shall also be confident enough to stick to its long-term pursuit of peace and stability through mutually-beneficial cooperation, including cooperative management of disputes.