Improving Security in the Western Pacific

By Captain Kenji Kinoshita, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force

The primary theme of the 5th WPNS was to promote maritime understanding and naval cooperation in the West Pacific Region, with a secondary theme of promoting a naval exchange network. In the symposium, the JMSDF first presented the "overview of the 5th Workshop" held in June, and then participating navies conducted presentations and discussions on various subjects related to "global and regional situation," and "maritime cooperation for confidence building." Of the 19 participating navies, 17 were member navies: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United States, and Vietnam; two were observer navies: Canada and France. Of special significance was the presence of China, whose participation for the first time in the last eight years was indispensable for meaningful discussions on maritime confidence building measures in the region. The rank of the delegates at the 5th WPNS also was very high: nine Chiefs of Navy and many Deputy Chiefs. Russia decided to send the Commander of Pacific Fleet (full admiral) immediately before the symposium. It was a significant success of the 5th WPNS that the representatives from the United States, Russia, and China came together to discuss subjects of mutual interest on regional maritime confidence building measures.

In a discussion concerning maritime confidence building measures—collected in a paper entitled "An Evaluation and Proposal on Maritime Confidence Building Measures by Western Pacific Naval Experts at the 5th WPNS"—the Chiefs of Navy agreed in principle to the following actions:

  • To continue to support the Western Pacific Naval Symposium.
  • To enhance port visits.
  • To ensure the Maritime Information Exchange Directory and Replenishment at Sea Handbook inputs are forwarded to the cognizant navy.
  • To foster high level/staff contacts.
  • To foster exchanges between naval academies, staff colleges, and training centers.
  • To offer tours of naval bases and other facilities as appropriate.
  • To provide notification of major naval activities.
  • To provide requisite information regarding fleet programs, specifically those ports anticipated to be visited.
  • To invite and receive exercise observers in the future.
  • To provide documents describing defense and naval policies.
  • To provide information on naval procurement and retirement programs.
  • To defer the establishment of an annual WPNS seminar until all difficulties are resolved.
  • To arrange aircraft visits.
  • To consider the possible need for a multilateral Incidents at Sea agreement.
  • To encourage cooperation and coordination in search-and-rescue and disaster-relief activities.

These actions are non-binding in nature, and each WPNS member country is expected to implement them voluntarily; nonetheless, this effort demonstrates a visible direction in which all WPNS members exert efforts to achieve common goals.

Captain Kenjio Kinoshita serves in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Arrangement Office of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

 

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