Prime minister Shinzo Abe's just completed visits to all the countries in the region. And it's no secret that he's hoping to make a dent in China's influence. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, reporter on the trip.
Prime Minister Abe visited all 10 members of the association of Southeast Asian Nations during his first year in office. He's the first Japanese prime minister in 13 years to travel to Cambodia and Laos. He met with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen. They agreed to work together on economic and medical models. Abe also met with Laotian prime minister Thongsing Thammavong. He promised financial support to reduce poverty in Laos and fund major infrastructure projects. He stressed his country will further strengthen ties with ASEAN.
ASEAN member nations have become a driving force behind the world's economy and are essential for Japan's economic recovery. They are also important partners in keeping Asian waters, open, free, and stable.
Government sources also say it's significant that the prime minister has visited all ten members of ASEAN. China is rapidly increasing it maritime activities and military presence in regional waters. Abe is sending a warning to Chinese by saying all nations must follow the rule of law over maritime affairs. Abe has so far visited 25 countries during his first year in office. Next year, he plans to visit African nations and India. But relations with China and South Korea remain a matter of concern. No summit talks have been held with either country since Abe came to power last December. Government officials say Abe plans to deal with territorial disputes with those nations.