TOKYO – We have all heard the saying, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” That is particularly true where Asian security is concerned. Indeed, I believe that a framework under which Asian governments publicly disclose their military budgets needs to be established if we are to build trust and avoid a regional arms race.
More broadly, keeping military expansion in check, enlarging the number of countries that conclude the Arms Trade Treaty, and improving mutual understanding among national defense authorities are now the paramount issues facing Asia. They should be the focus of the East Asia Summit, which in turn should become the premier forum for taking up regional security issues and ensuring that stability is maintained.
Military expansion is inherently incompatible with Asia’s move toward the center of the global economy. The fruits of prosperity should be reinvested in improving people’s lives, not in weapons that can take them.
And yet safeguarding the rule of law counts most. For example, Japan will offer its utmost support for efforts by ASEAN member countries to ensure the security and free navigation of the seas and skies. But let me be transparent about what Japan will actually support, and how.