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Japan defense involvement with Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN

111Japan AseanIn recent years, Japan has been stepping up its involvement with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries in the realm of security. Since the Cold War, Japan has been steadily bolstering ties with these countries in the form of bilateral defense “exchanges” primarily centered on high-level consultations and working-level talks, and multilateral security “dialogues” with the goals of building mutual confidence and improving transparency. More recently, however, Japan has moved to a higher degree of “cooperation” – including bilateral military exercises and agreements on defense equipment – with certain ASEAN member states. With developments such as the first-ever defense ministers’ meeting between Japan and ASEAN member countries in November 2014, the ASEAN bloc is now becoming one of Japan’s major regional partners on security issues, following the United States, Australia, South Korea and India.