Ojaank IAS Academy




The Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

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The focus of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s March 2023 visit to India, during which he spoke with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on international and bilateral matters, was on G7 and G20 cooperation ( Japan and India hold their presidencies, respectively). Together with this, Mr. Kishida also discussed ways to strengthen the “Japan­India Special Strategic and Global Partnership” and launched “Japan’s New Strategy for a Free and Open Indo­Pacific” (FOIP).

According to Mr. Kishida’s speech, there is a need to give this concept a new push and momentum given the current geopolitical landscape, which includes the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, East China Sea, the Indian Line of Actual Control, and the Taiwan Straits. Japan’s FOIP clearly demonstrates that Japan wants to reinforce the idea that it has been the main champion of the FOIP concept.In the New Plan for the FOIP, Mr. Kishida warns that “at a time when the international community is at a historical turning point, I would like to clarify the concept of FOIP once again to propose a guiding perspective to be shared by the international community which, if left unchecked, could drift towards division and confrontation.” The New Plan for the FOIP places emphasis on the need to uphold the rules-based order and respect each other’s territorial sovereignty.

In addition to concerns like safeguarding the freedom of the seas and connectivity, Japan’s new strategy concentrates on the many difficulties the Indo­Pacific faces, such as the conflict in the Ukraine, food security, and cyberspace. The conflicting views of nations on the Russia-Ukraine war have brought to light another challenge: the absence of a unified viewpoint on “what the international order should be.” Nonetheless, there is a strong conviction that the FOIP will be able to work with varied viewpoints, accept them, and foster an environment of cooperation and collaboration rather than discord and conflict.It is important to promote “rule-making via discourse” in order to create this cooperative environment. It has been claimed that Japan should cooperate with other like-minded nations in the area under the FOIP, with India being referred to as a “indispensable” partner.

‘Four pillars of cooperation’ under the new FOIP have been outlined: principles for peace and rules for prosperity; addressing challenges in an Indo­Pacific way; multi­layered connectivity; and extending efforts for security and safe use of the “sea” to the “air.” There is an understanding that Japan needs to do much more in the region.

It was noted in the first pillar that when the rule of law is compromised, weak nations typically suffer the most. As a result, Japan intends to participate in economic development initiatives such supporting the G-20 Guidelines for “Quality Infrastructure Investment.”

Mr. Kishida discussed the “extension of collaboration for the FOIP by adding actual and practical initiatives in a wide variety of fields, such as climate change, food security, global health, and cybersecurity” under the second pillar. Japan has long collaborated bilaterally with other nations in the Indo-Pacific area on connectivity initiatives.

Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the South Pacific/Pacific Island nations have been identified as the three regions where more of these initiatives should be introduced under the third pillar. It will support the Bay of Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain concept in collaboration with India and Bangladesh, and the new Palau International Airport Terminal project—an archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean—that Japan has supported has also gotten off the ground. Japan has pledged an additional $100 million to the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund.

Japan will assist in enhancing the capacities of maritime law enforcement organisations in other nations as part of the fourth pillar. Japan will put into practise the “strategic use of Official Development Assistance (ODAs),” update the Development Cooperation Charter, establish guidelines for ODA for the following ten years, introduce a “offer­type” of cooperation, and create a new framework for grant aid of the “private capital mobilization­type.” Also, Mr. Kishida declared that by 2030, Japan will “activate” more than $75 billion in public and private money for infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific area.

Mr. Kishida’s visit’s main objective was to emphasise Japan’s importance in the developing geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific. He has previously said that “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,” demonstrating Japan’s anxiety over rising Chinese aggression in the area. Mr. Kishida’s emphasis on the necessity of upholding a rules-based, peaceful international order, as well as his introduction of policies and mechanisms under the new FOIP to aid in stabilising the regional order in the face of the Ukraine war and the various national positions on this conflict, further demonstrate Japan’s readiness for any unforeseen threat to both its own security and that of the region.India and the larger region would benefit much from a Japan that is firmly committed to the peace and development of the Indo-Pacific.

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