Tag Archives: Indian Ocean

European-Asian security interests in Indian Ocean piracy

In his book ‘Monsoon’, American geostrategic author Robert D Kaplan contends that:

“The map of Europe defined the twentieth century…the Greater Indian Ocean…may comprise a map as iconic to the new century as Europe was to the last one”

Geographically, there are three obvious places to look for European-Asian contact and cooperation. The Eurasian landmass had plenty of attention so far, and the polar cap is starting to attract more interest as the ice melts on the ‘Northern Sea Route’. But maybe it is time the Indian Ocean got its share of scrutiny. After all, the Indian Ocean sees the vast majority of trade passing between the two regions – at least until the ice melts back much further. Any threat to shipping in these lanes is clearly a shared security interest of European and Asian economies.

When it comes to tackling modern piracy, Asian countries potentially have a lot to teach their European partners. Japan’s PM Koizumi organised a major multilateral action in this sphere – the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia or ‘ReCAAP’ protecting ASEAN SLOCs against the piracy threat. Partly due to this initiative, piracy is no longer a serious problem in that region. Continue reading

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Quiet but effective Japan – NATO relations: The enduring value of the Aso doctrine

Just recently, a group of Japanese academics and think tankers visited NATO and try to see beyond Afghanistan for ways to sustain Japan’s relationship with NATO. Issues arising included emerging non-traditional threats, Civil emergency planning, ‘Smart defence’ and Missile Defence.

But do these routine and low profile contacts belie a carefully calibrated, more substantial relationship?

Contrary to what one might guess, this relationship goes back to the Cold War era, when, as Dr. Nishihara Musashi records:

Japanese defense ministers visited NATO headquarters in 1979, 1981 and 1984, respectively. But, it was not until after the Cold War ended that NATO’s Secretaries General Manfred Worner, Javier Solana and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer returned the visit to Tokyo in 1991, 1997 and 2005, respectively. Continue reading

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