Japan, Britain should cooperate in maritime security: Abe

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a Japan-Britain security conference Monday that the two countries should work together to ensure maritime security as peace in the seas is directly linked to national interests.

Japan needs to be a "net contributor" to global peace and stability, said Abe, who last week expressed his desire for Japan to play a more proactive role in global security measures at the U.N. General Assembly.

"Countries that respect the rule of law and share the same values will need to cooperate and share their wisdom with each other still more" in today's borderless world, Abe told the conference in Tokyo on security cooperation between Japan and Britain.

Rules need "a group of people who enforce them," said Abe. "Without such a group, the seas could revert to the days long ago when piracy was rampant."

Japan, which has enjoyed decades of maritime peace in the post-war era, has a "responsibility to fulfill" as a pacifist nation, Abe said.

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel have been engaged in antipiracy operations off the coast of Somalia and will jointly protect commercial ships from piracy in a wider area starting in December with multilateral forces that include Britain.

The comments came as Abe is trying to rework Japan's defense posture to better cope with security threats posed by China's growing maritime assertiveness in the East China Sea, and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Japan and Britain, both seafaring countries that have long been closely allied with the United States, are boosting defense cooperation. In June, Abe and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to share intelligence and accelerate joint development of some defense equipment.

At home, Abe is aiming to lift a self-imposed ban on collective self-defense and create a national security strategy to form a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council. Britain has already established a similar institution.

The two-day conference began Monday under the theme of "Rejuvenating U.K.-Japan Relations for the 21st Century," hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the Royal United Services Institute.