Joyce (Enling) Dong is a second-year Master in International Affairs (MIA) candidate at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), concentrating in International Security Policy and specializing in East Asia. She was previously a Policy Executive at the Ministry of Defense in Singapore. While at SIPA, she has interned at the Council on Foreign Relations and Asia Society Policy Institute, where she has focused on maritime security, China’s foreign policy and Asia-Pacific regional architecture. In her second year at SIPA, she is currently serving as a graduate student consultant to the U.S Department of Defense Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) to provide a curriculum review of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Humanitarian Center (AHA) Executive Program (ACE Program). She is also part of the graduate student team assisting the NYC Cyber Task Force on research regarding the most effective technical and policy interventions that have contributed to a defensible cyberspace.
“Japan’s Involvement in the South China Sea: New Military Dimension”
Japan’s growing involvement in the South China Sea (SCS) in the military dimension adds a new level of complexity to the SCS crisis. On the one hand, Japan’s more active defense policy in the SCS complements the U.S. “rebalance” to Asia and serves as an effective counterweight to China’s increasing assertiveness in the SCS; on the other hand, its heightened presence in the SCS is provocative to China and could escalate tensions in the region. While Japan does not have territorial claims in the SCS, Japan has played an active role in the SCS issue since the late 2000s. Japan has internationalized the SCS dispute by voicing dissent of Chinese actions at international forums, encouraged unity in the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) and increased bilateral cooperation with the US and other SCS claimant states. Japan’s rapid enhancement of defense relations, sharing of capacity-building capabilities and declaration of potentially sending patrols in the SCS, afforded by its recent domestic changes to its security and defense policies, however marks a significant change in Japan’s foreign policy in the SCS, towards support in military terms. The paper will highlight the rationale for Japan’s increased involvement in the SCS in the military dimension, the key mechanisms and constraints of this approach, how ASEAN countries have capitalized on the strategic opportunity and its overall implications on peace and stability in the region.