Japan’s recent decision to offer financial assistance to friendly nations for defence is a significant departure from its long-standing policies. The Overseas Security Assistance program will operate separately from the Overseas Development Assistance program, which has traditionally funded civilian infrastructure projects.
The move is likely in response to China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, which has raised concerns among neighbouring countries. The Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Fiji are among the first recipients of this security aid. The former aims to use the funds to purchase radars to monitor Chinese activity in the contested waters.
This move by Japan indicates its willingness to take a more active role in regional security and contribute to the defence capabilities of its allies. It also highlights the changing geopolitical landscape in the Asia-Pacific region, with Japan seeking to counterbalance China’s growing influence.