More than 15 years after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe first discussed Indo-Pacific cooperation during a visit to Delhi, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also gave a significant speech on Japan’s Indo-Pacific policy and its new security posture. The two nations reaffirmed their agreement on a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific, during the 27-hour tour of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. For his part, the Japanese Prime Minister elaborated on his goals for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). Amid this visit, a new plan for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, unveiled by Japanese Prime Minister Kishida, envisions India as an “indispensable partner” for preventing coercion and upholding a rules-based order. Kishida stated that there will be four pillars supporting Japan’s FOIP, including “principles for peace and rules for prosperity,” “doing challenges in an Indo-Pacific way,” “multi-layered connectivity,” and “expanding efforts for security and safe use of the sea to the air.” “I would want to use this occasion to strengthen the complex bilateral relationship that exists between our two nations and is built on the common ideals of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. backed by the ongoing interactions between the individuals,” Kishida said. He also listed additional measures to strengthen Japan’s FOIP. Kishida emphasized the importance of the high seas’ independence and called upon the nations to make territorial claims based on international laws.
He also announced $75 billion to support Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy as they reiterated their commitment to a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific (FOIP). However, both prime ministers decided that any unilateral move intended to alter the current situation in the East and South China Sea would be unacceptable. The global community is experiencing a historic tipping point right now as the Ukrainian conflict is once again a major geopolitical issue. Against such a backdrop, the focus of both of his trips has been on the strength of the unique bilateral strategic and international alliance. Here in the Indo-Pacific area, its effects, such as the food crisis and rising fertilizer costs, are also being felt. Cooperation between the G7 and the G20 is more important in order to address the numerous difficulties that the global community is now experiencing. Hence, it is clear that strengthening FOIP is the clear focal point of this bilateral meeting.
Japan’s New Thrust in Indo-Pacific
Japan has now decided to enhance its defense budget. Also, Japan would raise $75 billion in public and private capital to invest in the Indo-Pacific region and other nations. By 2030, Japan pledged to raise more than $75 billion in public and private financing for infrastructure projects around the Indo-Pacific region, demonstrating its commitment to the FOIP. Since India and Japan last met at a summit in March 2022, now is an important moment to interact on a bilateral basis because both New Delhi and Tokyo are currently in charge of the G20 and G7, respectively. India is obviously essential, but Japan will improve cooperation with the US, Australia, South Korea, Canada, and other countries. Moreover, India is heavily reliant on energy imports from West Asia and has vas trade relations with Africa that are transported by sea. Similarly, around 80% of Japan’s oil and gas supplies come from the IOR and are transported there via the South and East China Seas and the Malacca Strait.
Japan’s FOIP and India’s Role
The Indo-Pacific plays a vital role in regional and international commerce networks and is home to a wide variety of marine resources and habitats, extending from the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to the central Pacific Ocean. The historic presentation by the late Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in the Indian Parliament in 2007 in which he emphasized the need for India and Japan to develop the union of the Indian and Pacific Oceans to secure freedom and prosperity was the foundation for the speech. Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi jointly declared in 2014 that the bilateral relationship had been upgraded to a “Special Strategic Global Partnership.” A regional framework was established in 2015 to restore stability to the Indo-Pacific, aligning it with India’s Act East Policy and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). In 2016, when the current Prime Minister was in Delhi, the FOIP was founded. After more than ten years, the idea has gained strength, as China is flexing its military mussels in the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Besides, the promotion of the need to establish a “free, open, and inclusive” Indo-Pacific has been a key aspect of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy. The prime minister has made it clear that India’s independence, openness, and inclusion at home serve as the cornerstone on which it bases its promotion of these principles overseas. The prime minister has frequently mentioned the clear connection between the importance of these ideals in India’s foreign activities and its domestic politics and society.
India and Japan are two nations that want to profit from this collaboration. Due to the nature of their growth and contemporary demands, both states are positioned as complementary powers. The two nations have increased their bilateral defense relations and collaboration in multilateral organizations like the QUAD as a result of their strategic alignment in the Indo-Pacific. The expanding Chinese presence in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, together with shared fears about Chinese aggression, have placed India and Japan on the same strategic page. Moreover, The Russia- Ukraine war one year ago shook the cornerstone of the world order. It is vital to examine seven areas of convergence between India and Japan in order to comprehend the existing extent and potential of their collaboration.
Bangladesh and FOIP
Bangladesh is a crucial actor in implementing FOIP due to its geographical position and will play a vital role in connecting south Asia to South East Asia through its BIG B initiative. Bangladesh is crucial in ensuring the stability and development of the whole Indo-Pacific region since it is situated at the intersection of ASEAN and India. Bangladesh is anticipated to contribute significantly to the advancement of regional cooperation and the pursuit of global objectives. Beyond guaranteeing improved connectivity in the area for better economic success, the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt program, or BIG-B, is crucial for developing and strengthening relations between Bangladesh and Japan. Hence, as part of this visit, Japan’s Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth and Belt (BIG B) centering Bangladesh will be pivoted. India and Japan have cooperated on the Bay of Bengal infrastructure development as a result of their strong regional cooperation. Among these initiatives is the construction of LNG infrastructure in Sri Lanka, the building of pipelines and electrification in Myanmar, and the improvement of Bangladesh’s road network.
Saume Saptaparna Nath is a Research Associate at the KRF CBGA.