Japan: No Indo-Pacific Order Without International Order

Planet Earth viewed from space, focusing on China

In April, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, in his address to the joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, made the case for a stronger “global partnership” with the United States as part of a commitment to preserve “indispensable” U.S. leadership.

Two things stood out: One of the mainstays was the imperative for realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), which, as Kishida said, could soon face “harsher realities.” Second, highlighting the “loneliness and exhaustion” of the United States as the sole “country that has upheld the international order almost singlehandedly,” Kishida staked a claim toward co-sustaining a coalescing Indo-Pacific order and international order.

Such a perspective about the alliance’s present and future gives impetus to the argument that Japan’s FOIP vision, which was first crafted by Japan’s former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo – widely seen as a China hawk – in 2007, will now evolve to include a deepening of Japan’s role in and beyond the region’s security and economic order. Indeed, FOIP under Kishida conceptually and strategically increasingly falls under the aegis of the Free and Open International Order (FOIO) to stress the interconnectedness of the two and adherence to the rule of law in the international order. Japan no longer wants to trail but co-lead.

But how would this work?


Read the complete piece at The Diplomat published on June 25, 2024. This work is part of a Stiftung Mercator-funded project titled “Order in the Indo-Pacific: Gauging the Region’s Perspectives on EU Strategies and Constructive Involvement.” The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of Stiftung Mercator or the authors’ respective institutes.

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