Kishida Calls for Closer Japan-NATO Ties Amid Russia’s Growing Influence in Asia

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has stated that Russia’s deepening relationships with North Korea and China pose a threat to the West and its allies.

Kishida emphasized the need for Japan to strengthen its ties with NATO in light of Russia’s growing connections with Asian nations. He made these remarks on Monday ahead of his attendance at a NATO summit in the United States. Moscow has asserted that its enhanced relations with China and North Korea are not directed at any third country.

In written comments to Reuters, Kishida warned that “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,” urging the international community to resist Russia and its allies’ attempts to undermine the established global order. He specifically expressed concern about Russia’s increasing cooperation with North Korea.

“The securities of the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific are inseparable, and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its deepened military cooperation with North Korea are strong reminders of that… Japan is determined to strengthen its cooperation with NATO and its partners,” he stated. The West has repeatedly accused Pyongyang of providing Russia with weapons used on the front lines, claims that both Russia and North Korea have denied.

While refraining from naming China, Kishida mentioned that “some” other countries are allegedly aiding the Russian threat by supplying dual-use goods that could be used for military purposes. This accusation has been consistently made by Western leaders against Beijing, which denies involvement. Kishida called on NATO and its partners to unite against “international actors fueling Russia’s attempt to change the status quo by force.”

Tokyo has adopted a firm stance regarding the Ukraine conflict, aligning itself with NATO. NATO has maintained that if Moscow were to achieve victory in Ukraine, it could potentially move on to attack its members.

Moscow has dismissed these claims as “complete nonsense,” and has defended its relations with Asian partners as normal international interactions. Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized last month that the country’s cooperation with China in particular is “not directed against anyone” but serves as the “main stabilizing factor on the international stage” and is focused on the interests of its people.

On the other hand, Russia has frequently criticized Western efforts to expand global influence, citing NATO’s expansion towards its borders and interest in Ukraine as primary reasons for the launch of its military operation in February 2022.

During his visit to Vietnam last month, Putin also highlighted NATO’s increasing focus on the Asia-Pacific region and attempts to “put together a bloc system” in the area, which he described as a security threat to Russia and all Asian nations.

“NATO is already moving there as if to a permanent place of residence… We are obliged to respond to this and we will do so,” he said.