A little late off the mark with this one, but a few interesting pieces of information that might be worth watching out for in 2013. Martin Fackler has written an interesting article over at the New York Times which details Japan’s increasing security influence in Southeast Asia, covered often here at JSW.

Some of the territory has been well covered here and elsewhere, such as Japan’s support for various coast guards and maritime security, and the potential supply of submarines to Australia. There are some new pieces of information such as:

One plan now under negotiation is to train medical personnel from Vietnam’s navy next year to care for the crews on that nation’s newly purchased Russian-built submarines


Vietnam could also be among the countries that Japan would allow to buy its submarines, according to a former defense minister, Toshimi Kitazawa, who named Australia and Malaysia as other possible buyers.

And a few quotes worthy of reproduction:

We want to build our own coalition of the willing in Asia to prevent China from just running over us

From well known “Japan-as-a-middle-power” Keio scholar Yoshihide Soeya. And, the irrepressible Tetsuo Kotani:

Our strategy is to offer hardware and training to create mini-Japanese coast guards and mini-Japanese Self-Defense Forces around the South China Sea

The Vietnam reference is particularly interesting, especially coming from a former defense minister. Vietnam has already purchased six Russian improved Kilo-class subs, with India to provide most of the training, so purchasing Japanese Soryu submarines* would certainly give them a rather large, high quality submarine fleet for a middle-sized developing nation. Then again, if there is one country in the world that I would give a pass on regarding paranoia and foreign threats it is Vietnam.

Purchasing Japanese subs would likely give Vietnam access to Japanese ASW expertise and training, which is a blind-spot for the PLA(N). The Chinese submarine fleet is large but vulnerable, particularly around the shallow littorals of parts of East Asia. China’s own ASW capabilities are not particularly well developed with noisy subs and a limited number of ASW surveillance aircraft; not to mention a lack of operating experience. The proven package is probably of interest to Vietnam.

*As pointed out in two comments there is no reason to assume it need be the Soryu and that Japan has plenty of other quality but considerably cheaper (and less sensitive) subs to sell to the Vietnamese.

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Corey Wallace joined Japan Security Watch in 2011. He writes on Japan security-related topics, focusing on issues and stories that may not find their way into the English language media. He also hosts the blog Sigma1 where he writes on Japanese domestic politics and broader issues in international relations. Prior to taking up a PhD Corey was a participant on the JET program (2004-2007) and on returning to New Zealand he worked at the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology from 2007-2010 as a policy adviser. Corey lectures two courses at the University of Auckland. One is on the international relations of the Asia-Pacific, which contains a significant focus on East Asia security issues. The other is a course on China's international relations. His primary academic interests before his current Japan focus were science and technology politics/policy, issues of ethnic identity, and Chinese modern history and politics. He carries over his interest in issues of identity and history into his PhD where he is looking at generationally situated concepts of national identity and their impact on foreign policy ideas in Japan.
Corey Wallace has 256 post(s) on Japan Security Watch