Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, The University of Tokyo
Germany finally joined the camp. German government, on Wednesday September 1, formally adopted guidelines of its policy on the Indo-Pacific region. This is an important manifestation of a move in tune with the US and the other “Quad” countries, Australia, India and Japan in their effort to cooperate against the increasingly unruly posture of China.
The policy guidelines entitled “Germany-Europe-Asia: Shaping the 21st century together” recognizes the Indo-Pacific region as the key region in shaping the international order of the remaining century and advocates German role in shaping the rules-based order in this region, avoiding the establishment of an order based on the law of the strong. It also aims to avoid unilateral economic dependencies to, without naming names, obviously China, by diversifying partnerships with ASEAN countries.
In view of Germany’s limited capability in its navy, to what extent it can contribute to secure the maritime route is open to question, but its addition enhances the legitimacy of this effort.
On the same day September 1, commerce and industry ministers of Japan, India and Australia agreed to launch an initiative to diversify supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region, apparently to reduce trade dependence on China.
Global geopolitical shift has turned the broad Indo-Pacific region into the center stage of the world politics.
The United States Pacific Command was renamed to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on May 2018, recognizing and emphasizing the importance of India and the South Asian region.
Even the Middle East, which has been occupying the place of the focal point of the global struggle for power and dominance, is increasingly redefined and contextualized at the far western end of this vast region of the Indo-Pacific.
It was as if a farewell message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced his intention of resignation for his ill health on August 28. Abe dedicated his long tenure since December 2012 to the policy of building a broad coalition of willing countries which are seeking for a rules-based order in this vast region connected by the Pacific and Indian oceans.
One of the achievements of his diplomacy in this difficult and turbulent time was the advancement of a concept of Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy which was initiated by Japan and then incorporated into the US National Security Strategy issued in December 2017. “Indo-Pacific” concept grew into a rallying axis of nations which seeks for
Outgoing Prime Minister Abe has left many legacies in Japanese politics and not all of them are taken as positive for some, as with the case of any democratic leaders. His “proactive” and vocal approach to diplomacy and security policy, however, will linger on, drastically changing the passive nature of Japanese diplomacy by his predecessors. An effort to call together like-minded nations around the Indo-Pacific region, was the core of his global vision which are being fulfilled at the end of his term.