During a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to NATO headquarters, the two sides signed an “individual partnership and cooperation program” that will serve as a roadmap for future joint activities, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
The substance of the program for “cooperation” is clear from the rhetoric employed:
“NATO, which shares our fundamental values, is indeed our natural partner. Together, we triumphed in the Cold War.”
Rasmussen “lauded Japan for spending billions to support alliance operations in Afghanistan,” and for being NATO’s oldest partner from outside Europe or North America.
But, past is merely prologue.
Rasmussen told a joint news conference:
“There is no doubt the security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic and Asian-Pacific regions cannot be treated separately. In this time of crisis, our dialogue with like-minded partners like Japan is key to address global security challenges.”
And, when Abe said in the non-public portion of his speech, according to a transcript provided by Japanese officials, that “the number of times that (Japanese) Self-Defense Force aircraft scramble in response to military aircraft approaching our territorial airspace has now reached the same level as during the height of the Cold War,” it should be understood that Japanese self-defense spokesmen are speaking of both Chinese and Russian aircraft.