Ahead of the G7 Leaders Summit in Hiroshima in May, to counter China’s growing presence in the Indo-Pacific and to forge stronger partnerships with countries in the region, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday announced an expansive new plan for an open and free Indo-Pacific (FOIP). The Japanese leader while unveiling the new FOIP said India is an “indispensable partner” of his country.
He unveiled Tokyo’s new plan at a time when the tensions between Japan and China are escalating over territorial claims over Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands in East China Sea. In fact Japan has recently initiated several countermeasures in response to Chinese bullying tactics in the region. For both Japan and India’s China’s territorial claims are a big challenge.
At the end of the bilateral talks between the two leaders, the Japanese leader unveiled his ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Plan for Peace’ (FOIP) during a lecture at a leading think-tank in the afternoon. He was delivering the 41st Sapru House Lecture at Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi.
In June 2022 during Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, PM Kishida had said while delivering a lecture there that next spring he would lay out the plan for Indo-Pacific next spring.
According to reports in the public domain, the Japanese leader had said during that lecture in Singapore that “I will lay out a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Plan for Peace’ by next spring which will strengthen Japan’s efforts to further promote the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, with an emphasis on providing patrol vessels and enhancing maritime law enforcement capabilities, as well as cyber security, digital and green initiatives, and economic security.”
PM Kishida in his lecture hoped the new plan will promote free and open Indo-Pacific. This Tokyo led initiative is meant to curb the growing assertiveness of Beijing which also includes Japan’s support for maritime security, assistance to emerging economies, infrastructure cooperation as well a provision for coast guard patrol boats and other equipment.
What is this plan?
It is about Japan’s approach and policy towards the Indo-Pacific. Several countries in the last few years have outlined their policies for the region.
With a view to strengthen and maintain rules based international order in the region, Japan, a member country of the QUAD (India, the US, and Australia) has been pushing for an open and free Indo-Pacific.
According to the Japanese leader the new plan had four pillars and these are: maintaining peace; ensuring the safety of the open seas and skies; achieving global connectivity through various platforms; and dealing with new global issues in cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries.