What US-Japan naval cooperation in the Gulf of Aden tells us: Roundup on the Four Pillars

Dec 4, 2023News

Minh Nguyen, BGF Editor

More information has been made clear regarding a naval confrontation in the Horn of Africa. A civilian vessel, owned by an Israeli group and flagged as Liberian, sent out an SOS call in response to a raid by Somali pirates. However, their call was apparently ignored by the nearby Chinese military vessels. It was then that a US vessel, the USS Mason, along with an ally, reported to be Japan, a Pillar, finally intervened. This resulted in the boarding and arrest of the pirate vessels and those on board. Interestingly, the USS Mason was the one that came under fire from Houthi, an Iran-backed rebel group in Yemen, by two missiles that missed earlier that week. This incident demonstrates that the Four Pillars are an important and necessary player on the global stage. Coordination between the Four Pillars means that the Pillars can better defend themselves, and those that support the rule of law. It enhances democracy across the world. This incident also demonstrates that one should be wary of Chinese or Russian hegemony in the world, where the rule of law is not considered, or calls for assistance against lawless actors go unnoticed.

However, this naval incident is just one of many to befall US or allied (eg. Japan) vessels in recent weeks, in light of the war in Gaza. It has been reported that three commercial vessels had been targeted by the Houthis, and the Pentagon has threatened to take actions.

Japan and Vietnam have elevated their relationship to Strategic Comprehensive Partnership. This will enhance not just economic cooperation, but security cooperation as well, seeing both states have concerns and territorial disputes with China. Additionally, this has been a convergence of economic and security interests from both sides, building up from decades. This is the third Pillar that Vietnam has attained status with (the others being India and the US), and the second of this year.

Something to watch out in the Four Pillars space (none of the Pillars have taken action yet) is that Venezuela, a rival of the US in Latin America, has been eyeing to annex the western half of its neighbor Guyana, which recently discovered oil in the region. Most recently, the country’s population has “approved” a referendum to claim sovereignty over Essequibo, the aforementioned oil-rich region. However, it should be noted that this may just be posturing to distract the domestic population and won’t lead to consequential actions.

USS Mason and JS Akebono, credit: JMSDF Twitter