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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : No ‘sayonara’ for Japan in Indo-Pacific geopolitics



Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Current events of national and international importance(indo-pacific, India-Japan relations, South China Sea etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings involving India or affecting India’s interests, Significance of Indo-Pacific for India etc



  • The visit by the Japanese Prime Minister to India, in March 2023, during which he engaged on:
    • Global and bilateral issues
    • Focus on cooperation between the G-7 and the G-20 (Japan and India hold their presidencies, respectively).
    • Japan’s New Plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP)
    • Deepening the “Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership




  • The Indo-Pacific is a geopolitical construct that has emerged as a substitute to the long-prevalent “Asia-Pacific.
  • Indian ocean and pacific ocean: It is an integrated theater that combines the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the land masses that surround them.
  • Strategic and economic: It is both a strategic as well as an economic domain comprising important sea-lines of communication
  • Maritime security: The Indo-Pacific is also associated with maritime security and cooperation.
  • US: It describe the Indo-Pacific as a region that starts at the:
    • Western shore of the Americas and ends at the shores of the Indian subcontinent.
  • India and Japan: the concept is much broader in expanse, extending to the shores of the African continent.
  • Major stakeholders in the Indo-Pacific include: India, U.S.A., Australia, Japan, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and other maritime nations that occupy the strategic positions in the Indian and Pacific Ocean including small island countries.


Significance of Indo-Pacific region for India:

  • Strategic significance: The Indo-Pacific is a multipolar region that accounts for over half of global GDP and population.
  • Mineral Resources: Maritime regions have also become important storage areas for essential resources such as fish stocks, minerals, and offshore oil and gas.
  • Economic Growth: The Indo-Pacific area accounts for approximately 60% of world GDP, making it the most important contributor to global growth.
  • Commerce: Many of the world’s most important choke points for global trade are located in this region, including the Straits of Malacca, which are crucial for global economic growth.


Current geopolitical landscape:

  • 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 Free and Open Indo-Pacific(FOIP):

  • Japan wants to reinforce the idea that it has been the main champion of the FOIP concept
  • The New Plan for the FOIP lays stress on the need to uphold the rules-based order and respect each other’s territorial sovereignty.


Pillars of cooperation’ under the new FOIP:

  • Principles for peace and rules for prosperity; Japan wants to engage in economic development programmes such as promoting the implementation of the G-20 Principles for “Quality Infrastructure Investment” in Vulnerable countries.
  • Addressing challenges in an Indo-Pacific way; Expansion of cooperation for the FOIP by incorporating realistic and practical projects in a wide range of areas, such as:
    • climate change
    • food security
    • global health
    • cybersecurity
  • Multi-layered connectivity;
    • Japan has been working on connectivity projects bilaterally with many countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • Introducing more such projects are Southeast Asia, South Asia and the South Pacific/Pacific Island countries.
    • New commitment of $100 million towards the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund
      • It will promote the Bay of Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain concept in cooperation with India and Bangladesh
    • New Palau International Airport Terminal project (an archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean) supported by Japan has also taken off.
  • Extending efforts for security and safe use of the “sea” to the “air”: Japan will help in strengthening the capabilities of maritime law enforcement agencies in other countries.
    • Japan will implement the “strategic use of Official Development Assistance (ODAs)”
    • Revise the Development Cooperation Charter and set forth guidelines for ODA for the next 10 years
    • Introduce an “offer-type” cooperation and a new framework for “private capital mobilization-type” grant aid.
    • Japan would “mobilize” a total of more than $75 billion in public and private funds in the Indo-Pacific region by 2030 in infrastructure development.


Challenges before the Indo-Pacific:

  • Ukraine war
  • food security
  • cyber space
  • freedom of the seas, and connectivity among others.
  • Lack of a united stand on “what the international order should be
    • The differing position of countries on the Russia-Ukraine war


Way Forward

  • Japanese PM: “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”.
  • FOIP will be able to work with and embrace diverse voices and create an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration rather than division and confrontation.
    • Rule-making through dialogue’ should be encouraged.
  • Japan under the FOIP should work alongside other like-minded countries in the region, with India being billed as an ‘indispensable’ partner.
  • The primary goal of Japan is to reinforce the centrality of Japan in the emerging geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific.
    • Japanese PM had stated that “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow”, which shows Japan’s concern about growing Chinese belligerence in the region.
  • JAPAN’s emphasis on the need to uphold a peaceful and a rules-based international order
    • Putting forward policies and mechanisms under the new FOIP to help stabilize the regional order amidst the Ukraine war.
  • The differing positions of countries on the conflict goes on to show that Japan is preparing itself for any unforeseen threat to its own as well as regional security.



Evaluate the economic and strategic dimensions of India’s Look East Policy in the context of the post Cold War international scenario.(UPSC 2016)  (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)