Creation of free and open Indo-Pacific remains a key focus area for Japan for which it is promoting security cooperation with other countries to ensure a robust security environment, a white paper published by Japan’s Ministry of Defense has said.
Defense of Japan 2022, made public last week, said the Indo-Pacific region, in which Japan is located, faces various security challenges and has been significantly affected by the recent changes to the global balance of power fuelled by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
The paper particularly lists the growing tensions between the US and China in Taiwan and the South China Sea, the divide in the Korean Peninsula, and China’s “unilateral attempts” to change the status quo by coercion near the Senkaku Islands as well as the unilateral changes it is making to the status quo in the South China Sea among the different security challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region.
The paper states that the Indo-Pacific region is the core of the world’s vitality, which is home to half the world’s population and major sea lanes pass through the region.
“The ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ (FOIP) vision is based on the concept of ensuring the peace and prosperity of the entire Indo-Pacific region and consequently the world by realising a free and open order based on the rule of law in the region,” it states.
It adds that the FOIP is an inclusive vision and any country can cooperate as long as it endorses the concept.
Meanwhile, according to Global Times, China’s ministry of defence said on Tuesday Japan’s white paper “disregards facts and is biased against China. China asks Japan to face up to and reflect on the history of its aggression, and stops confusing the international community under the guise of a victim”.
Importance of Indo-Pacific Region to India
The Indo-Pacific region holds high importance for India as well.
In May this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Tokyo that India is committed to a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. He said he believes that deepening economic engagement among partners is crucial for continued growth, peace and prosperity.
Last year, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar had reiterated the importance of the Indo-Pacific, stating that India has about $200-billion trade passing through the region and also has its diaspora staying in littorals in this region.
Last week, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his UK counterpart Stephen Lovegrove had discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the Indo-Pacific, among other things.
Quad: ‘Japan had Like-Minded Partners’
A note from Japan’s Minister of Defense Kishi Nobuo as part of white paper said Japan has many likeminded partners and the ties between them have been strengthened in the face of unprecedented challenges.
“Among these, the bond of the Japan-US Alliance remains unshakeable, and trilateral cooperation among Japan, the US, and Australia, and quadrilateral cooperation among Japan, the US, Australia, and India, are further deepening,” he said in the paper.
In 2021, the Navies of the four countries had participated in the Exercise Malabar, 2021, which saw complex exercises including anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare drill, and other manoeuvres and tactical exercises.
In September 2021, the first Leaders’ Summit of the Quad — comprising Japan, the US, Australia, and India was held. A new security cooperation framework between Australia, the UK, and the US, and AUKUS was also established.
The paper also mentioned that from the perspective of preventing the emergence of threats to Japan, the importance of the role played by defence capabilities is increasing in cooperative efforts in the Indo-Pacific region.