Connect to share and comment

Japan's defense chief may visit Europe to discuss conflict-avoidance


Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera plans to visit Vienna from July 29 to meet with the head of Europe's security cooperation body to discuss a conflict-prevention framework in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when China is increasingly active in regional waters, a ministry source said Wednesday.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe draws members mainly from countries in Europe and Central Asia, including former Cold War adversaries, and provides a platform of dialogue to prevent conflicts among member countries.

Work to launch a similar framework is now under way in the Asia-Pacific region, with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations playing a central role in exploring the possibility at a time when some of its members are involved in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Japan is also involved in an ownership dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea.

In Vienna, Onodera is expected to hold a meeting with Lamberto Zannier, the OSCE secretary general. He is also likely to exchange opinions with Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

In the meeting with the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Onodera is likely to confirm with him plans to call for North Korea to take action toward denuclearization.

During his trip to Europe, Onodera may also visit Helsinki for talks with Finland's defense chief, according to the source.