The Japan Forum on International Relations


JFIR Commentary

"JFIR Commentary" introduces news analyses and opinions in Japan on Japan's position in the international community, but they do not represent the views of JFIR as an institution.

August 10,2023

LGBT Understanding Bill

The Bill for the Promotion of Understanding of LGBT People, formerly known as the Bill for the Promotion of Public Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, is to be passed in this Diet session. The original LGBT legislation, drafted by cross-party lawmakers in 2021, was primarily aimed at prohibiting discrimination; however, stiff opposition from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) prevented the submission of the bill to the Parliament. The revised version of the 2021 draft bill was proposed and endorsed by the LDP, Komeito, Japan Restoration Association, and the People’s Democratic Party. The bill underlines the premise of understanding the existence of LGBT people as well as eliminating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. On the contrary, the opposition party’s proposal is similar to the former anti-discrimination law. The Bill for the Promotion of Understanding of LGBT People was revised within the LDP in the course of negotiations with other parties even after it was submitted to the Diet. The original title used the term “gender identification” (“seijinin” in Japanese) but was later replaced by “gender identity” (“seidouitsusei” in Japanese). Seijinin depends on the subjective decisions undertaken by the persons concerned, while seidouitsusei allows for third-party involvement, even if it is limited to an extent. The initial draft strongly stipulated that “discrimination should not be tolerated” but was later moderated to “there should be no unfair discrimination.” “Seidouitsusei” (gender identity) was substituted with “jendaa aidenthithi” (katakana expression for gender identity) in the final form in order to gain the support of more political parties. Seidouitsusei can be interpreted as gender identity or gender identification. I am a little dissatisfied with the Diet’s signature iridescent resolution that carries ambiguous meaning. Traditionalist conservatives have harshly criticized the bill, claiming that it will destroy Japan’s good old traditions, culture, and family system. However, most developed countries have some kind of anti-discrimination institution for sexual minorities, and it is no exaggeration to say that this is a global trend. Same-sex partnerships are also spreading rapidly in many municipalities. Therefore, I intend to support this bill. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the legislation is yet to address some practical concerns. If “jendaa aidenthithi” is interpreted as gender identification, there is a risk of serious trouble: Males declaring themselves as “females” may enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms. Without appropriate ways to deal with or forestall these problems, the law would lose its credibility and effectiveness and would be unable to promote the understanding of LGBT people. Robust preventive measures must be developed.   (This is the English translation of an article written by FUNADA Hajime, House of Representatives member, which originally appeared on the e-forum “Hyakka-Seiho (Hundred Flowers in Full Bloom)” of JFIR on June 14, 2023.)


June 02,2023

Climate Security and Japan

The G7 Hiroshima Summit Session 7 “Common Endeavor for a Resilient and Sustainable Planet” addressed the importance of understanding energy security, climate crisis, and geopolitical risks in an integrated manner. The National Security Strategy of Japan, revised in December 2022, also recognizes that “climate change is a security issue that concerns the very existence of humankind.” Such geopolitical risks and security implications of climate change have been discussed by the international community for more than a decade. For example, since 2007, the United Nations Security Council has discussed the security implications of issues, such as climate change, resource and energy scarcity, water depletion, and ecosystem changes. The European Union, in its Common Foreign and Security Policy, also recognized that climate change, natural disasters, and environmental degradation have far-reaching effects on the resilience of communities and ecosystems on which life depends, and that these issues have led to numerous conflicts worldwide. Government agencies and academic institutions, such as the University of Toronto in Canada, Stanford University in the US, Oslo International Peace Research Institute in Norway, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, have been actively pursuing climate security research. In this regard, climate security was rarely discussed in Japan until the 2020s (1). For example, the National Defense White Paper first addressed the impact of climate change on the security environment and defense in 2021. Thus, the geopolitical risks of climate change are highly important and cannot be neglected by Japan. As described in recent peer-reviewed papers, climate change-induced environmental impacts, such as extreme weather events, natural disasters, and sea level rise, or countermeasures, such as decarbonization, energy transition, and geoengineering, are likely to lead to anti-government riots, ethnic conflicts, civil wars, and even inter-state clashes through a complex causal process (2, 3). Particularly, countries that are highly dependent on agriculture, underdeveloped, or have poor governance are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the risks of conflict and riots are correspondingly high. However, Japan has a relatively high adaptive capacity to climate change and is free of conflict hotbeds, such as violent ethnic conflicts, within the country. Therefore, climate change-induced civil wars or large-scale anti-governmental riots in Japan are not generally anticipated. Nevertheless, Japan may face climate security risks as mentioned below (4): 1) Intensifying conflicts over territorial rights and exclusive economic zones in the surrounding seas 2) Increased climate migration from Asia-Pacific countries 3) Economic stagnation due to damaged supply chains and local markets in climate-vulnerable Asian neighboring countries These climate security risks will emerge in the future, along with the increasing impact of climate change. Unfortunately, climate change has become a reality recently. According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which summarizes the latest scientific findings on climate change, global average temperatures have already risen by approximately 1.1 °C since the late 19th century; additionally, annual rainfall is increasing and the mean sea level rise is accelerating. Abnormal weather events, such as droughts, heat waves, and torrential rains, which have become increasingly severe worldwide in recent years, have also been reported to be related to climate change. The effects of climate change are expected to become increasingly evident in the future. The world is striving to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Even if this goal is achieved, the IPCC report states that the global average temperature in mid-century (2041–2060) will be 1.2– 2.0 °C higher than in the late 19th century. If carbon neutrality is not achieved and greenhouse gas growth continues at current levels until mid-century, average temperatures are expected to rise in the range of 1.6–2.5 °C. An increase in the average temperature of only 2 °C would increase the probability of an extreme heat wave by 13.9 times, which has occurred only once every 50 years in the late 19th century before climate change. Similarly, severe droughts, which occurred only once every 10 years in the 19th century, are expected to be 2.4 times more likely to occur when the average global temperatures would have increased by 2 °C . Moreover, climate security risks become more realistic with the impacts of climate change. It is not a matter of today or tomorrow, but climate change can threaten social peace and stability in an amplified manner as a “threat multiplier.” When the wheels are in motion, they may become irreversible. Thus, the key to risk management is preparing for the worst-case scenarios. Moreover, every individual company and government should be aware of the climate security risks to which they would be exposed to, and take the necessary steps to avoid them.   References 1. Odeyemi C, Sekiyama T. A Review of Climate Security Discussions in Japan. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(14):8253. 2. Sekiyama T. Climate Security and Its Implications for East Asia. Climate. 2022; 10(7):104. 3. Nagano T, Sekiyama T. Review of Vulnerability Factors Linking Climate Change and Conflict. Climate. 2023; 11(5):104. 4. Sekiyama T. Climate Security in East Asia and Potentials for Sino-Japanese Cooperation. Journal of the International Security Studies. 2022; 14:126-148.   (This is the English translation of an article written by SEKIYAMA Takashi, Associate Professor, Kyoto University, which originally appeared on the e-forum “Hyakka-Seiho (Hundred Flowers in Full Bloom)” of JFIR on May 29, 2023.)


April 17,2023

Why Is India Important to Japan, the US, and Australia?

Japan–India relations are seeing lively development in the year 2023. In January, Indian fighter jets visited Japan for the “Veer Guardian” joint exercise. In February, the Indian Army visited Japan for the “Dharma Guardian” joint exercise. In March, Japanese and Indian transport airplanes took part in the “Shinyuu Maitri” joint exercise, and in the same month, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) also conducted the “La Perouse” joint exercise in the Indian Ocean with the participation of Japan, the US, Australia, India, France, the UK, and Canada. The JMSDF has also conducted small-scale joint exercises with the Indian Navy. Moreover, in March, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Prime Minister of Japan visited India. Furthermore, the Prime Minister made a historic visit to Ukraine from India via Poland. The Prime Minister’s visit to India was originally scheduled to take place from March 19 to 22, and the Indian announcement was also based on these dates. Since he actually flew to Poland on the night of the 20th, Japan and India must have coordinated regarding the schedule on the nights of March 20 and 21; in this respect, it may have been the first secret diplomatic operation between the two countries. India currently holds the G20 chairmanship. The G20 combined accounts for two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of GDP, and 75% of international trade. At the same time, Japan holds the chairmanship of the G7 and has invited India as a guest country. This is why the leaders of Japan and India are sure to meet at both the G7 Summit in May and the G20 Summit in September. This year will likely be a major milestone for Japan–India relations. Why is India important to Japan (and the US and Australia) this year, and what problems is this relationship facing? These are issues that need to be examined to determine what is likely to happen in the future. The issues are examined one by one below. 1.Why India is important to Japan (1) The Indo–Pacific and the Quad aims as advocated by Prime Minister Abe Relations between Japan and India have long been marked by indifference. Particularly during the Cold War, Japan was an ally of the US, while India became a de facto ally of the Soviet Union; hence, their relationship became estranged. The strengthening of relations in more recent times had not progressed since Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s visit to India in 2000, but it gained momentum after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed the Indian Parliament in 2007 and announced his views on the Indo–Pacific and the Quad. Prime Minister Abe was popular in India, and later, Japan–India relations developed at an increasing pace during his time as Prime Minister. Judging from Prime Minister Abe’s speech to the Indian Parliament titled “Confluence of Two Seas”[1] and the paper “Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond”[2] published by Abe in 2012, the Indo–Pacific and the Quad he envisioned had the following three characteristics. One is the need for a way of thinking that unites the Pacific and Indian Oceans, which are undergoing remarkable economic development and increasing their influence as centers of world politics. According to the British think tank, International Institute for Strategic Studies, as of 2012, the total defense spending of Asian countries not including Australia and New Zealand exceeded that of the NATO countries in Europe.[3] In the past, when a major war broke out in Europe, this affected the world and was considered a world war. However, if a major war broke out in Asia now, the entire world would be affected. In other words, Asia has also begun to have a level of influence such that it can earn the title of the center of the world. , which have newly begun to become a center of world politics. This is the Indo–Pacific. Second, the region has been threatened by Chinese domination, evoking the need for a counter-concept. If we think of it as the Indo–Pacific, this includes all countries that have territorial problems with China. The Quad is a group that consists of all influential countries in the Indo–Pacific with the exception of China. As such, the Indo–Pacific and the Quad are useful when considering cooperation among countries as a strategy against China. Third, it is a concept that highlights the importance of India. The difference between “Indo–Pacific” and “Asia-Pacific,” a term used since the end of the Cold War, is India. Within the Quad, Japan and Australia are allies of the US, and if it were only about cooperation among these three countries, there are already many opportunities, so there is no need for a new framework. The reason for advocating the Quad was to get India into the ranks. In other words, the combination of the Indo–Pacific and the Quad as envisioned by Prime Minister Abe was to counter China’s domination by considering the rapidly growing region as one and including India. Therefore, what kind of concrete impact will the inclusion of India and the envisioning of the Indo–Pacific and the Quad have in terms of the China strategy? It is expected to have an impact from three perspectives: military, economy, and values. (2) Military The Chinese pattern of territorial expansion demonstrates that the Indo–Pacific and the Quad are militarily effective. For example, China’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea exhibits a pattern of military balance shifting and territorial expansion occurring when a “power vacuum” arises. In fact, when France withdrew its troops from the region in the 1950s, China occupied half of the Paracel Islands. In the 1970s, after the Vietnam War, when US troops withdrew from Vietnam, it occupied the other half of the Paracel Islands. In the 1980s, when the Soviet military presence in Vietnam was reduced, it advanced into the Spratly Islands and occupied six locations. When US troops withdrew from the Philippines in the 1990s, it occupied Mischief Reef.[4] When the military balance changes and a “power vacuum” arises, China attempts territorial expansion. Conversely, maintaining the military balance can be seen as a cornerstone of measures against China. However, maintaining such a balance is surprisingly difficult. This is because China’s military spending has grown remarkably. According to a database from the Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China’s military spending increased by 72% in the decade from 2012 to 2021. In the same decade, US military spending fell by 6.1%, indicating that the budget is insufficient to maintain the military balance.[5] This is where the Indo–Pacific and the Quad come in. What would happen if Japan and India cooperated? China will have to distribute its budget between Japan (to the East China Sea) and India (to the India–China border). If China’s military spending is dispersed, it will be easier to maintain the military balance. Even if China advances into the Indian Ocean and threatens the sea lanes of Japan, the US, and Australia, if the Indian Navy maintains security in the Indian Ocean, the latter three nations will not have to devote so many ships to the Indian Ocean. Cooperation with India is also important in terms of assistance to Southeast Asian countries. India is responsible for the training and maintenance of navies and air forces in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and other countries in the region, as well as the maintenance of fighter jets in the Indonesian Air Force. supersonic anti-ship missiles to the Philippines. Regarding these points, if India is included in the Indo–Pacific and Quad, it will become a major force in deterring China’s territorial expansion. (3) Economy Promoting cooperative relations with India in the form of the Indo–Pacific and the Quad will also influence the effectiveness of the economic aspects of the Indo–Pacific strategy. First, China’s growing influence is related to its economic growth. China has been able to rapidly increase military spending because its economy has grown, and its budget has swelled. This budget is spent not only on defense but also on infrastructure development projects, such as the Belt and Road Initiative. Some of these infrastructure projects are profitable, the host countries are heavily indebted, and consequently, China expands its influence. Furthermore, China uses economic coercion against countries that criticize it. For example, when Australia called for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, China delayed imports of wine and lobster from Australia, effectively imposing economic sanctions. In this way, China’s economic strength and the dependence of other countries on trade with China have led to its increasing influence and coercive aggression against other countries, both militarily and diplomatically. This is why, when considering measures against China, it is necessary to curb the influence of the Chinese economy. Therefore, based on the concept of the Indo–Pacific and the Quad, what happens if we include India? In terms of the size of India’s economy, it has the potential to become an alternative to China. India also has untapped rare earth reserves, which have the potential to reduce dependence on China from a supply chain perspective. (4) Values Furthermore, cooperation with India acts a countermeasure to China from the perspective of values and the idea of a rules-based international order. For example, when China began building artificial islands in the South China Sea, the Philippines resorted to an international tribunal. The 2016 ruling rejected China’s territorial claims and called for a halt to the construction of artificial islands. However, China refused to participate in the trial itself, ignored the verdict, and not only proceeded with the construction, but also began deploying missiles, bombers, and so on, even though it initially said that the artificial islands were not for military purposes. These actions that ignore international law mean that China is challenging the current rules-based international order. By contrast, India also had a maritime border issue with Bangladesh, but when Bangladesh appealed to the International Court of Justice, India decided to take the fight there. In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled in Bangladesh’s favor, and this ruling accepted by India. The latter’s attitude respects international law and is based on the rules-based international order. This attitude should serve as a model for countries around the world. 2. Difficulties in diplomacy with India In this way, accepting India as an ally is in the national interest of not only Japan but also the international order, including the US and Australia. However, building relations with India also has some challenges that need to be addressed. In particular, the following three points are emerging as major issues. (1) Deep ties with Russia Russia is a country that has exhibited clear opposition to the Quad. This has become particularly problematic since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Within the Quad, differences in policy toward Russia between Japan, the US, Australia, and India have surfaced. Not only did India not condemn Russia , but it also increased its oil imports from Russia under sanctions; from the perspective of Japan, the US, and Australia, this appeared as support for Russia. In reality, India is trying to remain neutral, albeit considerate of Russia. For example, while China has condemned Western sanctions, India has not. At the UN Security Council, it not only abstained from resolutions condemning Russia, but also abstained from those introduced by Russia and China. As for the massacre in Bucha, India vehemently condemned it although it did not name Russia. India is also providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian refugees. Furthermore, in August 2022, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began to ask President Putin directly to end the war as soon as possible, saying, “This is not the time for war.” India’s stance is opposed to aggression itself, but retains neutrality in consideration of Russia, an old friend. Why is it against aggression but considerate of Russia? This is because India recognizes that Russia has consistently sided with it for the past 70 years. This mainly includes three occasions. First, India expected Russia to deal with China, Pakistan, and once even the US. India and Russia entered into a de facto alliance in 1971 when India decided to attack Pakistan. India was concerned that if it attacked Pakistan, China would side with Pakistan and attack it. This is why it wanted an arrangement that would have the Soviet Union attack China if the latter attacked India. Hence, it concluded a de facto alliance with the Soviet Union in the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation. After the Cold War, relations with Russia remained important even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Pakistan adopted the “Thousand Cuts Strategy” to support radical Islamic terrorists and believed that a thousand small wounds would weaken India’s national power. Hence, India needed information on Islamic extremist movements, which Russia provided. Moreover, if Pakistan-backed terrorists attack, India might attack Pakistan, and it wanted support under such conditions. Specifically, if the UN Security Council passed a resolution to stop an Indian attack on Pakistan, it wanted Russia to veto it. In fact, during the Third Indo-Pakistan War, the Soviet Union vetoed resolutions calling on India to cease military operations. Furthermore, India believes that Russia also functioned as a countermeasure against the US in the Third Indo-Pakistan War, when the US sent an aircraft carrier to the Indian Ocean to threaten India, but the Soviet Union in turn threatened the US by surfacing submarines behind the US aircraft carrier. Due to these reasons, India has a sense of being an ally of Russia. India is also dependent on Russia for arms supplies. Currently, about half of the Indian Army’s arsenal is of Soviet or Russian origin. This is especially true for frontal equipment such as tanks and fighters. Weapons are precise but used in rough environments; hence, they break quickly. There are dedicated maintenance teams that constantly repair them during use and such weapons therefore depend on a supply of repair parts. Moreover, frontal equipment consumes ammunition, so they also depend on a supply of ammunition. In other words, the Indian Army, which has a large amount of Russian-made frontal equipment, relies on Russian supplies of repair parts and ammunition. Therefore, if India were to launch a large-scale attack on Pakistan or China, it would have to be hastily supplied with repair parts and ammunition before the war could start. In fact, during the Third Indo-Pakistan War in 1971, India was not ready as, for example, 70–80% of its tanks were under repair, so India asked the Soviet Union to supply repair parts. The Soviets carried transport planes full of repair parts. Despite carrying weapons to attack Pakistan, they landed in Islamabad, Pakistan to refuel as they did not have sufficient range. It is also important to note that the weapons supplied by Russia include very new ones that other countries do not have. While the West does not trust India and has been reluctant to supply advanced technologies such as nuclear submarines and supersonic missiles in the past, Russia has supplied India with these and India is grateful to Russia. In addition, India-Russia relations are linked to the Cold War political system. India’s political system was liberal democratic, but its economic system was socialist and economically tied to the Soviet Union. India’s products were not internationally competitive, but the Soviet Union took them and turned them into money, weapons, and so forth. When India held elections, these were funded in part by donations to political parties from Indian companies funded by trade with the Soviet Union. Therefore, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union had a strong influence over India. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, India also changed its economic policy; hence, the influence of the Soviet Union disappeared. However, there was still a sense of friendship with Russia, especially among the generation that lived through the Cold War, and this came to the surface with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, in advancing the Indo–Pacific and the Quad, it is necessary to ensure that the relationship between India and Russia does not have a negative impact. (2) Land borders As indicated in Prime Minister Abe’s “Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond,” the Quad was originally meant to be a cooperative relationship with a focus on military cooperation. However, India is cautious about this military cooperation. India promotes cooperative relations for maritime security and counter-terrorism under a Japan–US–Australia–India framework, including the Malabar exercises, but in land-based and aviation matters, it promotes cooperation on a bilateral basis, such as US–India, Japan–India, and Australia–India, thus applying different approaches. Why is this? A major difference in perceptions between Japan, the US, Australia, and India in the Quad is and Australia have no land borders with China, while India does. Therefore, China is a much more serious matter for India than for Japan, the US, or Australia, and the issue of the India–China border must be handled with caution because it could immediately escalate into fighting. This was especially evident in 2020, when Chinese forces attacked the Indo–Chinese border, killing 20 people and injuring 76 others, for a total of nearly 100 casualties on the Indian side alone. Since then, the Indian and Chinese armies have gathered troops with the latest weapons from all over the country and remain in a state of combat readiness. The attack reminded India of a fundamental dilemma of the Quad. While the Quad is useful for countering China, if the latter recognizes it as a military alliance against it and decides to fight, India is likely to be the first to be attacked. From China’s viewpoint, Japan, the US, and Australia are countries across the sea, while India is a country that is very close to it by land;, making it easy to attack. Moreover, while Japan, the US, and Australia are firmly bound by a formal alliance, India is a friend with weak ties. As such, India has a dilemma. Cooperation with the Quad countries could initially strengthen the defense of the India–China border. However, cooperation with the Quad should not provoke China too much. Hence, while reiterating that India does not consider the Quad as a military alliance against China, it is actually pursuing defense cooperation on a bilateral basis. At first glance, Japan, the US, and Australia are forced to adopt a seemingly contradictory response by giving due consideration to India’s situation and cooperating in strengthening the defense of the India–China border, while saying that is not a military alliance. (3) Opposition to the West and lost personal ties India was a British colony and has a strong distrust of Western countries. The acceptance of the Indo–Pacific and the Quad in India seems to have been strongly influenced by the Japanese advocacy of the Quad, and in particular, that by Prime Minister Abe, who had earned the personal trust of India. In this case, the right-wing leanings of Prime Minister Abe worked in a positive way. India’s perception of Japan is still that of an Asian country that defeated Europe in the Russo-Japanese War and supported the Indian independence hero Subhas Chandra Bose in World War II. The Modi administration, in particular, has tended to shine a spotlight on Bose, and in September 2021, a huge statue of Bose was erected in central Delhi. The problem is that Prime Minister Abe was assassinated. If the Quad becomes more US–led, India, which opposes the West, may distance itself a little, and the question arises of how Japan can attract India without Prime Minister Abe. 3. Changing India In this way, strengthening relations with India through the Indo–Pacific and the Quad frameworks is an effective strategy against China, but it also faces the problems of Russia, land borders, and the absence of a Japanese leader. What should we do? In thinking about this, it is useful to understand and encourage change in India itself. (1) Declining dependence on Russia First, India’s dependence on Russia is clearly declining. This is clear when considering the arms trade. According to SIPRI’s database, the amount of weapons by India from four countries, the US, the UK, France, and Israel, exceeds that of weapons imported from Russia. Figure 1: Share of Indian weapons imports by country (value basis) * Created by the author based on the SIPRI database ( * Light blue = total amount of weapons imported from the US, the UK, France, and Israel. * Red = total amount of weapons imported from the Soviet Union and Russia. Moreover, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union did not export arms to China and Pakistan, which are hostile to India, but Russia is now increasing arms exports to China. Russia has explained to India that the weapons it sells to India are better than those it sells to China. However, there are many military secrets, so India has no way of confirming this. Such proximity between Russia and China undermines India’s confidence in Russia. Figure 2: Share of Chinese weapons imports by country (value basis) * Created by the author based on the SIPRI database ( * Light blue = total amount of weapons imported from the US, the UK, France, and Israel. * Red = total amount of weapons imported from the Soviet Union and Russia. Not only that, but in parallel with the recent closeness of China and Russia, there has also been an increase in the number of cases of Russia exporting weapons to Pakistan. For example, the JF-17 fighter aircraft jointly developed by China and Pakistan as well as the J-10 fighter jet made in China imported by Pakistan have Russian-made engines. Russia also exports Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan. Figure 3: Share of Pakistani weapons imports by country (value basis) * Created by the author based on the SIPRI database ( * Light blue = total amount of weapons imported from the US, the UK, France, and Israel. * Red = total amount weapons imported from the Soviet Union and Russia. * Yellow = total amount of weapons imported from China. Adding to this situation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is creating problems. Russia needs weapons for the war, and Western sanctions have reduced semiconductor imports, making it difficult to produce weapons. This is why less arms are being exported to India. As a result, India is increasingly trying to reduce arms imports from Russia. In fact, the Indian Air Force has reduced the amount of weapons it imports from Russia, and the Ministry of Defence as a whole has indicated that more than 100 parts of Russian-made weapons will be domestically produced through technology transfers. Thus, India’s move away from Russia is a tailwind for the Quad. (2) China’s unstoppable advance and growing military cooperation India wants to emphasize that the Quad is “not a military alliance” to avoid escalating China’s activities along the India–China border. In reality, Chinese activities clearly continue to escalate. The number of violations of the India–China border by China was 213 in 2011, but it has increased since to 426 in 2012, 411 in 2013, 460 in 2014, 428 in 2015, 296 in 2016, 473 in 2017, 404 in 2018, and 663 in 2019. In other words, it increased in 2012, leveled off thereafter, and grew again in 2019. Interestingly, the number of incidents of Chinese vessels violating the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands also increased in 2012, leveled off, and then increased again in 2019. The number of cases was 12 in 2011, 428 in 2012, 819 in 2013, 729 in 2014, 707 in 2015, 752 in 2016, 696 in 2017, 615 in 2018, and 1,097 in 2019. Figure 4: Comparison of the number of Chinese violations of the India–China border and around the Senkaku Islands Created by the author based on media reports, announcements by the Japan Coast Guard, In other words, China is escalating the situation with India in the same way it is with Japan. Therefore, even if India tries to be considerate of China by saying that it is “not a military alliance,” in the end, China will escalate its actions on the India–China border. For India, strengthening its defense system on the India–China border is an urgent task, and if it is to be useful, it must promote cooperative relations with the countries of the Quad. The US is aware of this, and in 2022, US troops were 200 kilometers from the Indo–Chinese border in August and 100 kilometers in November and December, as joint US–India military exercises were conducted. The US–India arms deal also provides a large supply of necessary weapons at the India–China border. Furthermore, Japan is building roads in northeastern India, which is an economic project that can also be used by Indian troops deployed on the India–China border for movement. I also had the opportunity to visit the India–China border in August 2022, but the infrastructure development on the Indian side had been delayed, indicating the need to rapidly make improvements. Therefore, the Quad countries should provide sufficient support for the defense of the India–China border in light of this situation in India, thus enhancing the usefulness of the Quad for India. (3) Personal ties that Prime Minister Kishida is trying to rebuild Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to India in March 2023 was an important visit in terms of Japan–India relations after the assassination of Prime Minister Abe. The Indo–Pacific and the Quad began with Prime Minister Abe’s speech to the Indian Parliament, and India is indeed their birthplace. In India, Prime Minister Kishida unveiled a more concrete plan for the Indo–Pacific, “A New Plan for a ‘Free and Open Indo–Pacific’ (FOIP).”[6] This is meant to be a Japanese expression of how important India is to the Indo–Pacific and Quad. Not only that, but the announced plan also clearly states how support will be given to the countries of the Global South, which is something that India has called for, so that Japan and India share national interests. In May 2023, Japan will chair the G7 summit and invite Prime Minister Modi representing India as a guest country. The G20 summit will be held in September, and Prime Minister Kishida will visit India again. This relationship can provide many opportunities to build relations between the leaders of Japan and India. If we can make good use of these opportunities, we may be able to get the Japan–India relationship back on track after the death of Prime Minister Abe as well as secure the future of the Indo–Pacific and Quad. As China’s power grows, relations with India are important to Japan. This is why we must strengthen our relationship with India. To this end, it is necessary to understand the environment in which India finds itself and to take its nature into account. In light of recent changes on the Indian side, it seems possible to strengthen relations. The question now is how to make the most of these opportunities. (This is an English translation of an commentary written by NAGAO Satoru, Specially-appointed Research Fellow, the Japan Forum on International Relations / Fellow(Non-Resident), Hudson Institute, which initially appeared on the JFIR website of the “JFIR Rising Star Program: JRSP” as of March 31, 2023.) [1] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, “Confluence of Two Seas,” August 22, 2007 ( [2] Shinzo Abe, “Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond,” Project Syndicate, December 27, 2012 ( [3] The International Institute for Strategic Studies, “The Military Balance 2013,” p. 33. [4] Ministry of Defense of Japan, “The Situation in the South China Sea (China’s Land Reclamation and Trends in Related Countries),” July 2022 (, slide 6. [5] Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Dr Nan Tian, Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, Alexandra Marksteiner, and Xiao Liang, “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2021,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, April 2022 ( [6] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, “Policy Speech by Prime Minister Kishida: (A New Plan for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP)), March 20, 2023 (

NAGAO Satoru

February 14,2023

Does the Ukraine war poses a final threat to multilateralism?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has destroyed the free and open international order based on multilateralism and the fundamental values of liberal democracies, human rights and the rule of law, which brought peace, stability and prosperity to the world following the Cold War, and it has delivered a blow that will draw a line in global history. Despite the invasion being a clear violation of international law – by encroaching on national sovereignty and territorial integrity through inhumane use of military force, and threatening with nuclear weapons – we are faced with the reality that it is not possible to halt this war using international law or international systems. In other words, multilateralism is encountering an unprecedented test. In response to this, the G7, EU, NATO and others have been united in criticizing Russia and have been implementing high-level economic sanctions, while accepting the backlash on their own citizens (in the form of economic pain). Additionally, the United Nations (UN), which both symbolizes multilateralism and represents international public opinion, is also facing the dilemma of being unable to halt military action by a permanent member of its Security Council. The UN has nevertheless fulfilled a role to an extent, with 141 member countries having voted in favor of condemning Russia at an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, an overwhelming majority. On the other hand, what must be closely noted here is the reality that 40 countries opposed or abstained from this vote. The 35 countries that abstained included G20 members China, India and South Africa. The vote exposed discrepancies in countries’ stances toward Russia, and highlighted the presence of emerging and developing countries that do not agree with the current order. That is to say, even before the tragedy of the war, the voices of forces prioritizing “each country’s individual interests” over “the world’s common interests” were making it difficult to reach multilateral consensuses. There are even grounds to call this “a stalemate of multilateralism.” This is a challenge that multilateralism has been shouldering for some time, via the withdrawals from multilateral frameworks that arose from President Trump’s policy of putting his own country first, and Brexit. What is furthermore serious is the threat that this is exposing the current order to, as economic powerhouse China threads its way into these tremors in multilateralism and advocates “true multilateralism” while winning over emerging and developing nations, and thus accelerating “‘China’s characteristic’ multilateralism” (Kunio Takahashi) (Note 1). China has declared that it seeks to amend the international order that is seated on the UN’s international system, with “true multilateralism.” The fact is that Chinese nationals who hold important posts at international organizations are a conspicuous presence. Additionally, “‘China’s characteristic’ multilateralism” will grow with the “Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” the “Belt and Road Initiative,” the “Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)” and other China initiatives. Moreover, in order to complement the Belt and Road Initiative, which was viewed as problematic for posing a “debt trap,” China has also come out with the appealing concept of the “Global Development Initiative (GDI),” whereby it partners with the UN to implement development cooperation toward achieving the SDGs in developing countries. These challenges by China and Russia are aggravating so-called “contested multilateralism,” and are exposing free and open multilateralism based on fundamental values to a crisis of division. Forming a backdrop to this accelerating division is a battle for supremacy between the U.S. and China, which surrounds the standardization and connectivity of high tech resulting from the advent of a fourth industrial society. Even the deepening of mutually dependent economic relationships that followed the Cold War has become a “weapon.” Geographical space has expanded to space and cyberspace, and the sphere of security has also expanded to the economy, climate change and other areas. We are literally in a transitional phase toward a new era of multilateralism. More than anything else, what is needed is wisdom that does not create divisions in free and open multilateralism based on fundamental values. The key to that is an approach that nestles close to all the countries in the Global South, including emerging and developing countries, so that they elect to endorse multilateralism.   (This is the partial English translation of an article written by WATANABE Mayu, President of the Japan Forum on International Relations, which initially appeared on the JFIR website of the study group on “Strengthening Japan’s Overall Diplomatic Capability” as of February 1, 2023.)


October 21,2022

“Pro-American yet Autonomous” in a multipolar era

Introduction This article offers an independent examination of the global power changing relations within Eurasia and Japan’s position because of China’s rise, considering the Japan-United States (US) alliance and Japan’s relationships with the major Eurasian powers. Further, hopefully, it will be possible to position Japanese diplomacy toward Eurasia as a catalyst for pro-US yet autonomous Japanese diplomacy. Although the significance of “autonomous” is relative, it means that Japanese diplomacy must adopt a more flexible and multifaceted mindset than today, given the number of unforeseeable factors. Compared to the US, Japan is a nation with a different geopolitical position, national strengths, and national characteristics. Therefore, the regional and international perceptions differ between Japan and the US. Although the “multipolar worldview” is shared by the EU member states, China, Russia and other East Asian countries. the Japanese and the US media tend to be reluctant to use this term.   However, perceptions of “US hegemony” are receding. To what extent do we consider this at face value? Although the Japan-US alliance is the cornerstone of Japanese diplomacy, we must consider that global perceptions of the international order are changing in response to China’s rise. Nevertheless, few people believe that China’s rise will reach parity with the US in terms of overall strength in the next five to ten years. There remains a strong view that the US is the global hegemon and must remain the world’s police even if its influence is on the wane. Nonetheless, the gap between the US and Chinese power is narrowing. This is apparent when we consider the significant turbulence in the US, such as during the Trump administration. In a public opinion survey conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) at the end of 2020, immediately following the formation of the Biden administration, over half of the Europeans felt a strong sense of crisis about the shaking state of American democracy.   At this turning point, it is essential to rethink Japanese diplomacy and the world from a geopolitical standpoint. This is because, geopolitically, Japan could find itself caught between the US and the Chinese powers. It could easily become a dependent variable within the framework of US-China relations. To what extent can we act as intermediary over those intricate relations? Can Japan show its diplomatic insight? The ideal of Japanese diplomacy is to play an independent role as a bridge between the two sides. This opinion is often met with following response: “that’s sound in theory but impossible to achieve in practice.” It certainly will not be easy. However, should we give up, diminish ourselves, and settle for being a junior partner to the US because it is difficult to become an intermediary or a bridge? This raises an issue that reaches the heart of Japanese diplomacy. It may be a matter of lifestyle for individuals, but what about the nation?   Even if it might seem idealistic, I would like to consider how Japan can play an even more important political role in Asia and globally—to use a somewhat rhetorical expression, I would say “Pro-US yet autonomous diplomacy.” Nothing is better than having an independent and reliable friend. It is only natural for independent people and countries to have differences of opinion. However, if a relationship of trust is established, it should be possible to cooperate on a single goal astutely—it is proof of a powerful and dependable allied.   This scenario would require Japanese diplomacy to be increasingly flexible. Subsequently, it is essential to hone one’s insight sufficiently to convince neighboring countries and the world to conduct and communicate this insight effectively. One might call this “insight diplomacy.” This should not be limited to defense buildup discussions or arms races. Military realism is rousing, but the devastation in Ukraine illustrates today’s tragedy as its result. What we need in diplomacy now is political realism. In this context, while statements by officials with field experience are valued considerably, the current expectation is the appearance of states people and politicians possessing high levels of foreign policy insight. Japan is a trusted, safe country that numbers among the world’s leading nations in terms of overall strength. It has a good image based on strong credibility and a national brand. Therefore, it is neither rash nor reckless for a country to have its long-term, broad vision for the stability of the international order (=global governance) and be able to respond freely. If it is seen to waver in making positive commitments at the cost of stability, it will set back the world’s expectations for Japan. “It’s Time to upgrade Japanese Diplomacy!” – Indo-Pacific and East Asia are other options, but is there no other option in the form of Eurasian credibility diplomacy? (refer to “Ugoke, Nihon gaikō [Move forwards, Japanese Diplomacy!”, Diplomacy, Vol. 1, 2010).   1. Eurasia’s geopolitical significance A Different View of the Map – Reality of Japan’s Geopolitical Location First, Japan is a Pacific country and part of the Eurasian continent. We usually view Eurasia (the Asian continent) as being beyond the Sea of Japan. Moreover, there is a strong tendency to view relations with the United States, which is much further away across the Pacific Ocean, as being closer than those with China and the Korean Peninsula just across the Sea of Japan. I believe this to be unnatural. Despite having East Asian geographical and cultural attributes, the Japanese foreign policy has a twisted structure. It is more politically and diplomatically affine with the United States, far away on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. This has been a historical tradition since the policy of the Meiji era “out of Asia and into Europe,” but how long can this continue in the face of China’s and Southeast Asia’s remarkable growth? Let us take a look at Map 1.   Map 1: Japan Sea Rim and East Asian countries (Toyama-centered orthographic map) Reprinted from a map created by Toyama Prefecture   Maps have different meanings depending on how you look at them. Map 1 is the famous “upside-down map” published by Toyama Prefecture. Although the Sea of Japan divides Japan from continental Asia (Japan and China) from the standpoint of diplomatic strategy, in this map, it looks more like an “inland sea” sandwiched between the continent and Japan. It is more natural to view Eurasia and Japan as a single economic and customs zone. This map shows Japan in a different geographical position from the familiar Mercator map, which has the Pacific Ocean in the center of the map on an east-west horizontal axis.   Moreover, Japan is positioned as a “buffer state” between a continental (land power) and a maritime power (sea power). As seen from the continent looking out over the Pacific Ocean, Japan is a breakwater and fortress. Conversely, the Pacific side is a bulwark and outpost against continental advance. In other words, Japan is a double-edged breakwater from the perspective of the continent and the Pacific Ocean. Let us examine Map 2. It shows the US military defense force deployments worldwide, as seen from above the North Pole. They form a security network surrounding the Arctic Ocean. The US global military deployments span Hawaii, Okinawa, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, several military bases in Europe, plus the Fourth Fleet in the Atlantic, the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, the Third and Seventh Fleets in the Eastern and Western Pacific, and the Fifth Fleet in the Indian Ocean. In this sense, Okinawa and Guam occupy vital positions in defense of the Western Pacific and the Asian continent.   Map 2: US military deployments viewed from the North Pole Produced from Grand Atlas 2017(Courrier International), p. 115   Russian military ports and naval bases are situated on the other side of the Arctic Ocean. The strategic positioning of the Arctic Ocean is diametrically opposed depending on whether the US-Russian relations are hostile or friendly. The Sea of Japan holds the same geopolitical significance. As global warming makes the Arctic Ocean more practical, new developments in relationships between the US, China, Europe, and Russia are also possible.   Expanding Options for Japanese Diplomacy: Eurasian Perspectives Considering these two maps, it becomes possible to consider Japan’s geographic position in terms of politico-strategy—Japan’s geopolitical position; it is also about understanding the beginning of Japanese diplomacy. To conclude immediately, Japan’s position can be unstable because it is caught between major powers, but it can also benefit by handling this situation properly. Developing autonomous diplomacy has many constraints, but even if Japanese diplomacy has been characterized by altruistic diplomacy, it has negative aspects as well as positive, depending on the circumstances. Japanese diplomacy is strongly influenced by the relationships between the land powers (Eurasian powers, China, and Russia) and sea powers (maritime powers, the US and Britain) flanking it. The relationship between these two groups is a major determinant of Japan’s existential value and diplomatic positioning. In other words, Japan is a subordinate variable affected by the relationship between both groups. During the Cold War, when “sea power” was overwhelmingly strong, alliance with the sea powers was the only lifeline for Japanese diplomacy. Nevertheless, as the relationship between both powers grows more evenly matched, oscillating between confrontation, negotiation, and proximity, Japan must be prepared to take a more flexible stance. I think this is true realism.   Considering power politics, if the relationship between the US and China remains cordial, the Japanese archipelago will become a central region for transportation and commerce. Should tensions between the two powers escalate, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine will no longer be someone else’s problem. Again, Japanese diplomacy has always been strongly other-directly. A sincere, friendly relationship between both powers is certainly the best scenario for Japan. However, Japan can be said to have historically performed considerably well. It did not become a divided nation like Poland, Germany, or the Korean peninsula. Historically, Japanese diplomacy has been committed to stability and prosperity under the aegis of US power and has succeeded in bandwagon diplomacy. Before the Edo period, Japan was a member of the Greater China region through tribute and trade, a land power. Following China’s decline, Japanese diplomacy was based on an alliance with the United Kingdom and the United States, the leaders of modernization and sea powers.   An exceptional and regrettable period was from the early 1930s to the end of World War II. Despite strengthening its continental expansionist policy with Western help, Japan overextended itself in clashing with the Western powers. However, this could shake the foundations of Japan’s post-modern diplomacy should China transform from a regional power to a nation exerting a global influence (power transition). Japan will be forced to deal with a different international structure in Asia. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the changing situation in Eurasia. The meaning of “power transition” is surprisingly important to Japan. This was in the 1990s and early 2000s, the post-Cold War period, when Japanese diplomacy turned its attention to Eurasia. Subsequently, Japan’s Eurasian diplomacy became unenterprising from its position of prioritizing diplomacy with China and North Korea. From a long-term perspective, future trends in Eurasia and the response of Japan and the Japan-US alliance to these trends are unclear. As described at the beginning of this article, it addresses whether Japan’s geographical position between sea and land power can be considered in its politico- diplomatic view points and whether Japan’s diplomatic options can be further expanded by revitalizing its Eurasian diplomacy. It is also a simple question of whether Japan can remain a “detached Eurasian peninsula” amid the structural changes in the Eurasian international environment caused by the rise of China.   2. External Factors in the Transformation of the Eurasian International Environment Waning US Influence We list two external factors driving the transformation of Eurasia’s international environment. Popularly called “power transition,” it refers to the rise of China, but its inverse is the waning influence of the United States. The “New World Order” proposed by President George Bush, Senior immediately following the end of the Cold War failed to establish a clear vision. However, the rapid growth of high-tech sectors due to the IT revolution was the beginning of the US becoming a major power in the military, economic, and scientific fields. During the second term of the Clinton administration and the beginning of the George W Bush era, the US transitioned to an “era of hegemony.” Nevertheless, the Iraq War was the second most painful experience for the US after the Vietnam War. The US has since been forced to take an extremely cautious attitude toward intervention in other countries and deploy its troops overseas.   Meanwhile, Russia has revived itself through resource exports, and China has achieved remarkable economic development; they have drawn closer together in Eurasia. The Obama administration shifted its policy toward a “Rebalance to Asia” in response to China’s expanding influence in 2011–12. This has not succeeded in stopping China’s maritime expansion and North Korea’s nuclear missile development. However, the Trump administration’s hard-line stance toward North Korea and China has caused considerable anxiety worldwide that US policy might be implemented consistent with Presidential rhetoric. There were strong opinions within the administration that this should be suppressed; the US-North Korea talks are a manifestation of this. Despite being different in appearance, Biden’s diplomacy is a continuation of the previous administration. In this sense, the unipolar system under the US-style “liberal democracy” and the coexistence system of powers with shared worldviews resulting from the multi-polarization in Eurasia will continue. I once considered this conflict as a clash between two universalisms. I said that it would persist at least until the end of the first quarter of this century (see my works, “Post-Empire: The Clash of Two Universalisms,” Surugadai Shuppan, 2006; and “US-European Alliance and Conflict,” Yuhikaku, 2008).   Transformed Geopolitical Significance: Birth of the Arctic Sea Route Another factor contributing to Eurasia’s transformation is the change in the natural environment and the accompanying changes in the strategic map. The geopolitical position of the Sea of Japan is expected to become more significant as a strategic transportation route for China, Japan, and South Korea. This is the birth of the Arctic Ocean route. China’s ambitions for Arctic shipping routes, which will become navigable year-round due to global warming, are remarkable. This issue also marks a shift in geopolitical thinking in Eurasia. This means that Eurasia will no longer be a continent with its northern exit blocked by the Arctic Ocean but a new Eurasian island surrounded by the sea on all sides. The coastal areas around the Arctic Ocean are strategic points for Eurasian countries, as shown by the location of the US military bases on the map and for trade and transportation routes. In other words, in addition to the transportation routes surrounding Eurasia through the Pacific and East China Seas, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, the wide availability of the Arctic Ocean route will redraw the map for new transportation routes in Eurasia. In addition to the previous geographic routes along an east-west axis, the development of vertical routes extending north-south will amplify the new geopolitical significance of Eurasia. Consequently, the Eurasian power map could be significantly modified. Such a scenario would likely require a new axis in Japan-Russia and Japan-China relations framework. Will this be an “open Eurasia”? The answer will depend on the future efforts of the countries involved. 3. Distribution of Multi-Layered Spheres of Power Three “Spheres of Power” through the Multilateral Cooperation Framework and India Roughly speaking, international relations in Eurasia are evolving through the merging of five spheres of civilization and three spheres of influence. The five spheres of civilization are Confucianism and the Chinese world, Orthodox Christianity, Christianity, modern democracy and market economy, Hinduism, and Islam. The three spheres of influence are China, Russia, and the EU, each with its cohesive power. As a matter of terminology, the term Russian “sphere of influence” has become common due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, this tends to be used in the sense of a military defensive sphere. Therefore, I use “sphere of influence” without strictly distinguishing between military and non-military powers.   The spheres of influence were limited to three because of some question as to whether the Middle East region and India as a major power, can be called a sphere of influence, although it is a sphere of civilization. These two regions were omitted because no power has a strong, cohesive sphere of influence over the surrounding area. Although the Middle East region is broadly categorized as an Islamic religious sphere, its internal situation is complicated and divided, with religious conflicts often crossing national boundaries, and there remains no clear existence of a cohesive national power. Moreover, amid friction with China and the Muslim world, India does not have the power to unite with its neighbors as other countries in the center of their spheres of influence do. However, it is making its presence felt in diplomacy as a major nation. Nevertheless, the EU lacks cohesive power but is a sphere of influence that does not, in theory, assume a core power because it uses democracy as its integrating principle. Undoubtedly, Germany and France are its central forces. Nonetheless, the EU possesses considerable influence and could be called an economic power, albeit not military power, and a force that disseminates its governing principles and other modes of social norms and order—normative power. In Eurasia, the three spheres of influence (China, Russia, and the EU) and India compete and cooperate. As a sea power, the US is attempting to develop a new axis of diplomacy with each administration. Although not the theme of this book, I believe that the US can be described as a normative power, as it has been called a powerhouse of ideas; however, the range of the US is not regional but global and universal. The EU’s range was regional but is steadily expanding its scope to the global scale.   China’s Aim for “A Community with a Shared Future for Mankind” First, the rise of China is symbolized by the “One Belt, One Road” concept proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013. It is a win-win concept of cooperation and interdependence encompassing political, economic, and cultural fields, but each area and plan is not necessarily closely connected to the others. Although it is a vague concept of China’s sphere of influence and power, this “Chinese dream” proposed by Xi Jinping indicates China’s strategic intent, which has brought expectations, anxiety, and alarm to neighboring countries and the entire Eurasian region.   Its core encompasses a vast area stretching from Eurasia to Africa. In Japan, discussions concentrated solely on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), led by China, but that is only part of this concept. One Belt, One Road is China’s plan to expand its sphere of influence and power throughout Eurasia, right up to the EU member states. Although China calls for cooperation in the “five connectivities” (policy, infrastructure, trade, investment, and people exchanges), the reality is an accumulation of bilateral relations with China as the hub, which China calls “global governance” or “multilateral relations.” The language may be the same as in the US and Europe, but its substance is interpreted in Chinese. In 2017, China established its first overseas supply base in Djibouti, East Africa, at the meeting point of the Eurasian and African continents. It has acquired rights to use ports in over 30 key locations along the sea lanes connecting China with oil-producing Middle Eastern countries and Europe. It also has the deployment of military bases in its sights. As for securing sea lanes, the use of the Arctic Ocean is also linked to the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, dubbed the “Silk Road on Ice.” In January 2018, China released its “White Paper on the Arctic Policy.” The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) on the security front and the “+1” with Central and Eastern European countries, including EU member states, on the economic platform are Chinese-led multilateral frameworks.   Russia’s Prestige Diplomacy Second, what about the world as seen from Russia and Central Asia? Since the 1990s, many books on geopolitics have been published in Russia, analyzing international affairs from a Russian perspective. Historically, Russian identity is characterized by its identification with Westernization and a reaction to that identification. Russian diplomacy is characterized by a major power based on diplomatic skills and military power rather than economics. Putin’s diplomacy has no long-term vision but is said to prioritize restoring foreign prestige. The invasion of Ukraine, begun in February 2022, was intended to restore Russia’s “imperial” glory and prestige in response to NATO having nearly entirely encompassed the surrounding region. The beginnings of anti-US and European diplomacy under the Putin administration could already be seen during the controversy surrounding the Iraq war but became more pronounced after the “Color Revolution” of 2003–2004 and the EU/NATO’s eastward expansion. Putin’s speech at the Munich Security Conference in February 2007 criticized the US and Europe, reminiscent of the Cold War. Russia’s military intervention in Georgia during the 2008 conflict was the beginning of the events that led to the 2014 Ukraine conflict.   The Ukrainian conflict provoked economic sanctions by the US and Europe, dealing a heavy blow to Russia, which became more economically dependent on China, particularly on exports of liquefied gas and crude oil to China. Closer ties between China and Russia can potentially complicate geopolitical power relations in Eurasia. When French President Macron proposed a new “European Security Organization” to Russia in September 2019, it was intended to drive a wedge between China and Russia in Eurasia. Although public sentiment toward Russia and China in Central Asia is complex, Russia intends to strengthen its relations with the former Soviet republics and the Middle East. The Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (the five countries mentioned above plus Tajikistan) are two central regional organizations. Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan are not members of either, but they each maintain close bilateral relations with Russia. The Central Asian countries are pro-Russian, but the region is also relatively friendly with China. Like Japan, the Caucasus region, geographically sandwiched between the power blocs of Russia and the West, has always faced a delicate diplomatic situation. They have, respectively, adopted positions of neutral and balanced diplomacy (Azerbaijan), pro-Russia (Armenia), and pro-US-European (Georgia), with varying responses depending on their geographic and cultural distance from Russia.   The EU’s aim for normative power Third, the EU policy lacks a comprehensive “Eurasian policy.” However, the EU’s Eurasian policy can be considered an extension of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). Part of the Eastern Expansion, the “Eastern Partnership” is also part of the ENP. It is a policy of expanding a broad sphere of influence reaching Ukraine and the GUUAM countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova). However, in the EU’s case, conditions for membership include criteria centering on democratization and a market economy (Copenhagen Criteria). Nevertheless, the Neighborhood Policy also sets various detailed attainment goals based on European criteria for modernization, democratization, and human rights.   The EU calls itself a normative power, referring to its position of prioritizing contributing to establishing a common foundation for national principles and standards—influence in the form of soft power. The EU has historically had an affinity for Russia as part of its policy of balanced diplomacy with the US and China. There is a strong pro-Russian tendency in Germany, in particular. It is well known that former German Chancellor Schröder is an executive of an affiliate of the Russian oil company Gazprom. However, its transformation into an energy superpower and diplomatic offensive since the turn of the century under Putin’s regime has heightened alarm among the EU nations. Russia’s staunch military occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and its hybrid strategy in the Ukrainian civil war has imposed an image of the Soviet Union=Russia as a military power. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was an inevitable consequence of this.   However, Europe’s view of China is centered on the admiration for the country’s long history and its economic interests. Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly wary of the aggressive aspects of China’s “One Belt, One Road” concept. Thus, the EU’s policy toward China can be summed up as one of proximity and caution. Nonetheless, from the “Strategy for a New Partnership between the EU and Central Asia” in 2007, the EU has been striving for closer relations with Central Asian countries to support and cooperate in areas of democracy promotion, human rights and good governance, security and counterterrorism, and energy and infrastructure transportation.   An Open Eurasian + Pacific Community: Insight for a role of Bridge to Eurasia There is no definitive, ingenious answer to how Japan should respond to the current situation in Eurasia described thus far. As discussed, Japan is in a geopolitical position where it is forced to conduct heteronomous diplomacy. How can it ensure diplomatic independence in such a situation? Japan should pay more attention to the geopolitical power politics of Eurasia. However, the current US policy has its limitations. It is one of “intervention and hedging.” Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the US could not get directly involved, leading to further casualties. Therefore, Japan cannot take any particular action except fall behind the US and Europe primarily because Ukraine is geographically distant, but the lack of diplomacy with Eurasia may be the biggest problem.   What are the options for Japan’s Eurasian diplomacy in the future? We consider the following four options for Japanese diplomacy in the current situation: 1) countering the threats from China and North Korea by strengthening the Japan-US alliance; 2) maintaining ties with the Japan-US alliance while simultaneously working to ease tensions between Japan, China, and Russia; 3) seeking a “bridge diplomacy” in US-China relations; 4) striving to strengthen relations with Eurasia, including Europe, as an indirect means to achieve the above policies.   In practice, options 1 and 2 are being pursued. Whether diplomacy concerning option 2 is sufficient may be debatable, but Japan is attempting to maintain a stance of dialog while taking precautions against China and Russia. The issue lies with options 3 and 4. As a country at the eastern end of Eurasia, located between the two, Japan has emphasized alliances with sea powers and a path of cooperation with the US and the United Kingdom. However, if China, a rival power, expands, and a new balance of power is established, what role will Japan play between the US and China? The worst-case scenario for Japan is a negotiated agreement between the two powers over Japan’s head.   The memory of Kissinger’s secret diplomacy for Nixon’s visit to China, not divulged to the Japanese government in advance, is a recurring theme. Option 3 is diplomacy in which Japan can substantively demonstrate its presence between the US and China. Nevertheless, it is not easy under the current circumstances; many think it is impossible. This is nothing of the Senkaku Islands and other major frictions between Japan and China that come before the US-China relationship. Rather, given the North Korean missile crisis, I think there is a persuasive view that Japan is strengthening the Japan-US alliance to maintain its security. Some believe that if Japan acts strangely here, it could destabilize US relations. Such an attempt would destabilize Japanese diplomacy, leading to a high possibility of misunderstanding between the two major powers. As this is a wild-card choice, the only choice is between options 1 and 2. Most media and public opinion have settled on these as a safe start.   However, Japan would become a dependent variable if the US and China grew closer or reached a compromise. When the Cold War structure of the US-China confrontation was settled, with limited options for Japanese diplomacy, this was not the preferred international order but an unsafe one. Further, if this is the case, we must consider that it can break down. If the range of options available to Japanese diplomacy at that time was to be expanded, an approach to Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific was essential. The wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine are events that remind us of the importance of Eurasia. Power games backed by military power, mainly those of the US and Russia, will certainly not be the final solution to the problem.   In Eurasia, there is a multilateral framework with leading core countries at the center of their respective regions or spheres of influence. Would it be possible to put all of these into a single, large framework? These regions and multilateral cooperation organizations are not united in the desires of their major countries; there is also considerable frustration in the satellite countries of these spheres of influence. A framework like a “Eurasian Security Community” or “Eurasian Security Council” that includes Japan and South Korea should be preferable. A “collective security framework” differs from a “collective defense framework.” The latter describes cooperation to strengthen defenses against a hypothetical enemy and is premised on hostilities, while the former refers to cooperation to prevent or preempt hostilities. Japan should aim for the former. In Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE, the successor to the Cold War-era Council for Security and Cooperation of Europe (CSCE), including Russia and North America) is a security arrangement that has existed since the Cold War. There are questions about its usefulness because it has been unable to mount an adequate response to the Bosnian and Ukrainian conflicts in the post-Cold War era. However, this does not mean that the expansion of a military defense framework (NATO) brought peace; it only led to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While it is an idealistic view, I believe that Japan should pursue an Indo-Pacific strategy and make a sincere effort to seek a “Eurasian Security Community” and advocate for it on the world stage. Diplomacy acts behind the scenes to support security against the North Korean missile crisis and China’s navigation of the East China Sea. Indeed, linking Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific would be fitting for Japan. As seen with the OSCE, it is highly doubtful that a broad-based security framework would become an effective framework and structure. Nevertheless, a forum where Eurasian and Pacific nations can come together will be essential in the future. Although discussions regarding its realization today sound vague, there was a “Hashimoto Initiative” that intended to achieve this following the end of the Cold War. It will not be easily achieved, but I believe that showing the world its approach would serve to claim Japanese diplomacy to the world. It would be good for Japan to again propose a dialog to this end. While the outcome of such a dialog is important, the continuation of such a dialog is more important. This is because armed conflict can be avoided as long as that dialog continues. Losing channels for dialog or possessing only unidirectional channels is the greatest danger because it paves the way for armed conflict. The diplomatic acumen to persuade other parties and encourage cooperation is important to this dialog. The essence of political realism lies not in the imposition of one-sided ideals or worldviews but diplomatic actions through insight and dialog that make cooperation possible.   (Note) This article is heavily revised from my earlier article yūrashia kara mita kokusai seiji ─ ─ chiseigaku to gurōbarugabanansu no apurōchi [International Politics from the Perspective of Eurasia: Geopolitics and Global Governance Approaches] (JFIR World Review, Special Feature: ima yūrashia de nani ga okotte iru no ka [What’s Happening in Eurasia Today?], Japan International Forum, June 2018   (This is the English translation of an article written by WATANABE Hirotaka, Distinguished Research Fellow, JFIR/Professor, Teikyo University, which originally appeared on yūrashia dainamizumu to nihon [Japan’s Diplomacy in Eurasian Dynamism],  Chuokoron-Shinsha, July 2022.) p{text-align:justify}


August 15,2022

Japan’s Choice for “Eurasian Diplomacy”

Introduction On July 24, 1997, then-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto delivered the following speech at a roundtable meeting of the Keizai Doyukai (the Japan Association of Corporate Executives). “I believe that amid the sweeping changes in international relations resulting from the end of the Cold War, the foreign policy of our nation has come to an important period in which we must significantly push to enlarge the horizon of our foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific region as we forge a new diplomatic perspective. I prefer to call this perspective Eurasian diplomacy.”*1 A quarter of a century has passed since Hashimoto announced Japan’s “Eurasian diplomacy.” In Japan, this speech can be considered to mark the beginning of Japan’s Eurasian diplomacy. However, I say “can be considered” to emphasize that the concept of Japan’s “Eurasian diplomacy” continues to lack a clear definition even today. It is also difficult to define because different academics and policymakers have different views on the geographical scope and the goals of this diplomatic strategy. To begin with, the term “Eurasia” is seldom used in postwar Japanese diplomatic strategy. For example, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi’s foreign policy speech delivered at the 208th session of the Diet in January 2022 commented that the international community is currently undergoing a period of epoch-making change and emphasized the following two points. First, universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law and the international order have been exposed to severe challenges. Second, the advent of innovative technologies has rapidly broadened the scope of security. Subsequently, he raised the need for three resolutions (resolve to uphold universal values, protect Japan’s peace and stability, and contribute to humanity and lead the international community) based on the trust the world has placed in Japan due to the efforts of its predecessors. Moreover, the seven pillars were rearranged in the form of fields to which Japan should pay particular importance: (1) strengthening the Japan-US alliance; (2) realizing the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) concept;*2 (3) strengthening diplomacy with neighboring countries (China, South Korea, Russia, North Korea); (4) promoting regional diplomacy (ASEAN, the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and the Caucasus); (5) leading international efforts to create new rules (economic security etc.); (6) addressing global issues; (7) strengthening Japan’s all-round diplomatic capabilities. However, these points express interest in Eurasian issues in maintaining and strengthening Japan-US relations, strategic dialog with neighboring countries, and the importance of the Eurasian continent in terms of religious conflicts, resources, and terrorism, among others. Moreover, they did not set a clear direction regarding and responding to the continent. The same trend can be seen in the Diplomatic Blue Book*3 published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s term of office in 2016–2019, the phrase “stability and development of the Eurasian region as a whole, including Japan,” was used. Nevertheless, in editions from 2020, “stability” and “development” were used interchangeably. This suggests that the term “Eurasia” was not being used in the context of Japanese diplomacy. Since the end of the Cold War, Japan has developed various diplomatic strategies with a broader perspective beyond the Japan-US relationship, such as the “Silk Road Diplomacy” (1997), the concept of “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” (2006), “Diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map” (2012), “Proactive Contribution to Peace” (2013)*4, and the FOIP (2016). However, today, the international strategic environment in Eurasia is undergoing dramatic changes, including the materialization of China’s “One Belt, One Road” concept, North Korea’s missile proliferation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the return of the Taliban, Brexit (the UK’s withdrawal from the EU), African politics and opening-up, and the beginning of shipping routes through the Arctic Ocean. In this context, has Japan been able to strategically envision an overall image for the future of “Japan as part of the wider world” and develop a medium- to long-term diplomatic strategy for the Eurasian continent? Rather than focusing solely on countering conventional threats from unfriendly nations and other threats, can Japan develop a multilateral diplomatic strategy with an overall view of the Eurasian continent to increase its future diplomatic options? This paper was written with precisely this question in mind. This paper aims to recall the past 25 years of Japanese diplomacy and ask about the diplomatic strategy that Japan has adopted toward countries of the Eurasian continent.*5 In discussing Japan’s Eurasian strategy, I would like to recall the diplomatic principles established by the Hashimoto, Obuchi, Aso, and Abe administrations, which cannot be overlooked, and raise the need to choose “Eurasian diplomacy” in Japanese diplomacy today.   1. Positioning of Eurasia in Japan Main stage for a “return to geopolitics” Eurasia is a portmanteau of Europe and Asia. Eurasia is one of the world’s largest continents, encompassing China and Korea at its eastern end, Europe at its western end, and the Indian subcontinent at its southern end, with the Japanese archipelago being the easternmost island nation (the Eurasian Peninsula). Japan’s ties to the Eurasian continent are historically deep. It is a well-known, established theory that Japan and the people of Eurasia have had close interactions (trade, migration, etc.) throughout history and that the prototype of the Japanese people has its origins in Eurasia.*6 However, the Japanese usually look at the geographically distant American Continent rather than the geographically closer Eurasian Continent. The Japan-US alliance has been the cornerstone of Japan’s postwar diplomacy at both home and abroad, and few Japanese deny the role and value of the alliance. Amid these circumstances, the free and open rule-based international order, mainly supported by advanced democratic nations such as Japan, the US, and Europe, is now in danger. Many commentators have highlighted a “return to geopolitics.” Conventional geopolitics is associated with names such as Halford Mackinder, Alfred Mahan, or Nicholas Spykman, who have used reanalysis to unpick contemporary society from various periods and perspectives. Eurasia is the main stage for today’s return to geopolitics. This region has been called the “crossroads of civilization” since ancient times. It has been a vital geopolitical crossroad at which the influences of China (east), Europe (west), the Middle East (south), and Russia (north) have intersected. The dynamics of the Eurasian continent are increasingly active, creating an extremely complex regional dynamism. For example, China is developing an expansive cooperation strategy across Eurasia with its military rise and maritime expansion. This includes the Belt and Road Initiative, comprising the “Silk Road Economic Belt” (land route)*7 and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” (maritime route) and the “16+1” concept of economic partnership between China and Central and Eastern European countries. European countries are also moving to consolidate their position in Eurasia through economic proximity to China. The Middle East is experiencing a proxy war between the major powers in Yemen and Syria with the return of the Taliban. Russia has strengthened its economic ties in Eurasia, including Central Asia, and the Caucasus, through the Eurasian Economic Union, while committing a barbaric act of military aggression against Ukraine. Both events occurred in the Eurasian continent, and Japan cannot ignore either. While Japan is a country with limited natural resources, it is also one of the world’s largest energy consumers. Securing a stable supply of Eurasia’s abundant energy and diverse mineral resources is essential for Japan’s functioning. The Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011 and the subsequent nuclear accident that followed remain fresh in our minds and has triggered a fundamental rethinking of Japan’s energy and resource strategy. British Shell announced its withdrawal from the Sakhalin 2 gas development project in far eastern Russia (funded 12.5% by Mitsui & Co. and 10% by Mitsubishi Corporation). In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that his government would not withdraw from the project, citing Japan’s difficult financial situation. In an increasingly complex international society, Japan should broaden its diplomatic options by understanding Eurasia’s complex dynamics and international affairs.   2. Sprouts of Japan’s “Eurasian Diplomacy” – The Hashimoto Administration Hashimoto’s speech, mentioned at the beginning of this paper, prompted Japan’s first steps toward Eurasian diplomacy. Japan’s first step in its postwar diplomacy began with a two-pronged approach of concluding the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Japan-US Security Treaty—the San Francisco and the Japan-US security frameworks. Curiously, 2020 marked the 60th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty, which forms the basis for Japan’s national security. At that time, Abe emphasized that “the Japan-US Security Treaty is now an unshakable pillar, protecting world peace and guaranteeing prosperity.” However, his successor, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, declared at his inaugural press conference in 2020, “we will develop policy based on a functioning Japan-US alliance.” Furthermore, Prime Minister Kishida announced at a press conference the day after taking office in 2021 that he would “further strengthen the Japan-US alliance” and “achieve the FOIP” (see Figure 1). Therefore, successive Japanese administrations will likely continue to emphasize Japan-US relations and develop the FOIP in the future. Figure 1: An image of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”   Essence of Hashimoto’s Eurasian Diplomacy Although alliances existed in prewar Japan, an alliance with a particular country for more than 60 years is extremely rare. In that sense, the United States and the Japan-US alliance loom large, considering Japan’s postwar diplomacy. The Hashimoto administration, which I will discuss shortly, was no exception. The Hashimoto administration also embarked on its journey amid fears of a drifting Japan-US alliance due to the rape of a young girl in Okinawa and issues surrounding the Futenma base. In January 1996, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama abruptly announced his resignation, and Hashimoto succeeded him as prime minister. In his policy speech on January 22, 1996, Hashimoto proposed his vision for “developing an independent foreign policy.” In a later interview, Hashimoto said on the matter of independence, “(hereinafter Japan) will not do what it is told to do but will make its own judgments and come up with its own ideas,” and testified his belief that Japan should do more in terms of security.*8 During his tenure, Hashimoto achieved independent diplomacy. The origin of this independent diplomacy can be interpreted as the confluence of two events in the Hashimoto administration: 1) return of Futenma from the US; 2) conception of strategic diplomacy between Japan and Russia, subsequently the mainstream of Hashimoto’s Eurasian diplomacy. The two events did not coincide by chance but inevitably because Hashimoto saw Eurasia as a single continent with many countries. Before the new administration’s inauguration in September 1995, the kidnap and rape of a young girl by US soldiers in Okinawa had caused outrage among the people of Okinawa. Therefore, conflict broke out between the national government and Okinawa Prefecture over the right to use the land where US troops were stationed under the Special Measures Law for US Military Bases. Hashimoto had always been interested in Okinawa as a politician, and he considered the return of the Futenma base an important issue. Nevertheless, Hashimoto was concerned that putting Futenma on the agenda could shake Japan-US relations. Hashimoto was faced with a last-minute choice of whether to put the return of Futenma on the agenda just before his first Japan-US summit meeting with then-US President Bill Clinton in Santa Monica. At this meeting, Hashimoto and Clinton discussed matters unreservedly, whether, by coincidence or necessity, the Futenma issue was slated for discussion.*9 Later, in 1996, the Japanese and US governments reached an agreement regarding the Futenma base that continues to this day. Second, Hashimoto had worked out a framework for diplomacy with Russia*10 and how Russia should be a member of Asia. An ingenious idea to this end was for Japan to handle the procedures for Russia’s accession to the “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)” on its behalf.*11 However, Hashimoto had resolved to present a draft of the Eurasian diplomacy that had long been on his mind to bring Russia closer to Japan in a speech delivered to the Keizai Doyukai. In his speech, Hashimoto stated, “It is undeniable that of the interrelationships between the United States, China, Japan and Russia, which have a vital influence on peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan-Russia relations have lagged the most. (omission) Improving relations between Japan and Russia is the top priority for both governments as we head into the 21st century.” Further, he added that the three principles for improving relations are trust, mutual interest, and a long-term perspective. Subsequently, he emphasized, “Our goal, in line with these three principles, is to improve the overall relationship that exists between Japan and Russia and create a relationship reaching from the Asia-Pacific through to the Western tip of Eurasia from which both countries can benefit.” *12 Based on these statements, it can be inferred that the essence of Hashimoto’s Eurasian diplomacy primarily sought to bring Russia into Japan’s camp to further strengthen Japanese diplomacy.*13 Confirming this, a Japan-Russia summit meeting was later held (November 1997) in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. At this meeting, Hashimoto and then-President Boris Yeltsin agreed to make every effort to conclude a peace treaty by the year 2000, following the Tokyo Declaration. Therefore, Japan-Russia relations made steady progress after that. Nevertheless, unfortunately, the Japanese economy gradually deteriorated due to the Asian currency crises that began in the summer of 1997, and anxiety grew among the Japanese people. The approval rating of Hashimoto’s cabinet also dropped below 30%, and the government was now dangerously unstable, where it could no longer remain in power. Finally, Japanese citizens’ lack of distrust of government and unease about the future led to a wipeout of the Hashimoto regime in the 1998 House of Councilors election. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held onto just 44 seats, and Hashimoto resigned.   3. “Silk Road Diplomacy” – The Obuchi Administration and Central Asia Following Hashimoto’s resignation, Keizo Obuchi succeeded as the prime minister. Obuchi actively engaged in “Diet member diplomacy.” From June 1997, he followed Hashimoto, touring Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan through projects such as the Russia-Central Asia Dialog Mission (delegation led by Obuchi), and strived to build relations between Japan and the Central Asian countries. The beginning of Hashimoto’s speech outlined what “Silk Road Diplomacy” meant: “The countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, which have emerged from the vast Silk Road Region, are making significant efforts to establish rich and prosperous domestic structures under new political and economic institutions and create peaceful and stable external relations with their neighbors. I am convinced that Japan’s active assistance in the nation-building of these countries will surely have constructive significance for the newly independent states and the peace and prosperity of Russia, China, and Islamic countries and will expand the frontiers of Japanese diplomacy into the Eurasian region going into the 21st century.”*14 This speech shows that the “Silk Road Diplomacy” aimed to build stronger bilateral relations with the Central Asian countries. It was based on the three pillars: political dialog to strengthen trust and mutual understanding, cooperation in economic and resource development to create prosperity, and cooperation to achieve peace through nuclear nonproliferation, democratization, and stability.*15 A strategically key region rich in resources The Central Asian region remained a blank spot on the map until the 19th century. Mackinder once said, “He who controls the heart of Eurasia controls the world.” In the 19th century, Russia strategized to move southward into the Indian Ocean, competing with Great Britain for supremacy in the Central Asian region, which had colonies in India. Since their independence from the Soviet Union (now Russia), Central Asian countries have experienced several crises, including the Russian financial crisis. The region has become the site of the New Great Game between China and Russia (as their back yard)*16 because of its abundant rare metals, uranium, oil, and other resources. Japan is positioned in the corner of that region, and resource diplomacy with the resource-rich Central Asian countries is the most important issue for Japan, which is extremely dependent on resources and energy imports. In this sense, Central Asia can be regarded as a resource-rich strategic location. It has moved from being an isolated land-locked island deep in the Eurasian continent to connecting China and Asia with Europe from East to West, North to South, and Russia with Southwest Asia. Between October 22 and October 28, 2015, Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to visit Mongolia and five Central Asian countries (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan). Japan provided ¥12.7 billion in official development assistance (ODA) for constructing a thermal power plant in Uzbekistan. In Turkmenistan, Japan built a bridgehead for cooperation by proceeding with projects totaling more than ¥2.2 trillion, including constructing a natural gas plant. These moves strengthened economic ties and checked China’s growing regional influence. China was the largest trading partner of all five Central Asian countries, with Japan averaging only about 1%. In September 2013, President Xi Jinping visited Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to further encourage the expansion of Chinese companies into the region. In a speech in Kazakhstan, he proposed an economic zone called the “Silk Road Economic Belt.” Additionally, China rapidly increased its presence in the region by establishing the Silk Road Fund (with a capital of $40 billion) and the AIIB (with a capital of $100 billion) and showing a willingness to lend without strings attached. However, Japan supported the nation-building of Central Asian countries since the 1990s after their independence from the Soviet Union (now Russia). Therefore, its approach has differed from China’s. Japan has provided economic assistance and supported healthy development in the region through Central-Asia-oriented projects such as fostering agriculture, developing businesses, and increasing employment. Central Asia is often discussed as a single entity. However, it is a collection of various countries, not a monolithic entity, and situations differ from one country to another. As exchanges between Japan and Central Asia increased, the “Central Asia + Japan” dialog was launched in 2004,*17 proposed by the then-Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi as a new government-based framework for promoting regional cooperation. This dialog focused mainly on developmental challenges facing Central Asia, such as the economy, tourism, and agriculture, with the participation of experts and practitioners from both sides, and yielded focused discussions. Most importantly, for Central Asian countries seeking to diversify their foreign policy, Japan, which had no territorial ambitions, was a promising option. As mentioned earlier, the strength of Japan’s diplomatic approach was that it differed from the military and economic approaches of Russia and China. Moreover, it heeded the local people in Central Asia. It focused on them, including the development of industries that would bring employment and the training and development of businesses to further democratization. The launch of this dialog provided a common, sustainable framework within which Japan and Central Asia could move forward and grow together and an effective understanding of Sino-Russian relations. However, the “Silk Road Diplomacy,” proposed within the framework of Eurasian diplomacy, subsequently stagnated, perhaps due in part to the death of Yutaka Akino, a member of the United Nations Monitoring Mission in Tajikistan (UNMOT).   4. The “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” Concept – Aso’s “Value-Oriented Diplomacy” in Motion In December 2005, Foreign Minister Taro Aso delivered a policy speech titled “Asian Strategy as I see it: Japan as the Thought Leader of Asia.” In his speech, Aso posed three questions about what Japan is to Asia and provided three answers. His three answers were what Japan wanted: (1) to be the Thought Leader of Asia; (2) to be a stabilizing force in Asia (stabilizer); (3) to approach other nations as partners on equal footing rather than viewing them as above it or below. Subsequently, he welcomed China’s rise and called for transparency and stated that China, South Korea, and ASEAN countries should follow a path of “Peace and Happiness through Economic Prosperity.”*18 During his global visits after becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs in October 2005, Aso felt that the Japanese people should first reaffirm and reevaluate Japan’s value in terms of its international standing and value. A New Pillar of Japanese Diplomacy There is a reason why Aso is fixated on value. When he visited India as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2005 and observed the metro system, a local Indian told Aso, “what I have learned from Japan is the value of work above all else.” This may have had no small influence on Aso’s thinking.*19 After his return from India, Aso gave considerable thought to where the value of Japanese diplomacy lies. On November 30, 2006, at Hotel Okura Tokyo, he presented his answer in a policy speech titled “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity: Japan’s Expanding Diplomatic Horizons.” At the outset of his speech, Aso said, “Today, I am going to be speaking on the topics of ‘value-oriented diplomacy’ and ‘the arc of freedom and prosperity’. Both these are new bases for our foreign policy and new expressions, but I hope that you remember these two phrases when you leave here today.” This epoch-defining diplomatic concept went beyond the conventional pillars of Japanese diplomacy, strengthening the Japan-US alliance and international cooperation. This included the UN and strengthening relations with neighboring countries such as China, South Korea, and Russia, emphasizing “universal values such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law and market economy, taking the form of an “arc of freedom and prosperity.” Figure 2: An illustration of the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity   Here, the extent of the arc’s geographic scope is notable. Beginning with the Scandinavian countries, it extended to the Baltic countries, through Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Northeast Asia through Southeast Asia, right up to Japan’s partners in Australia and New Zealand. The idea was to create a prosperous and stable region grounded in universal values—an “arc of freedom and prosperity” across this geographic area (see Figure 2). As for what “freedom” and “prosperity” mean here, Aso interpreted them by saying that all the countries scattered along the “arc” are different from one another. All these countries are trying to grow before having had the chance to become prosperous. This is prosperity. The term “freedom” refers to the freedom of movement, speech, and living one’s own life.*20 Since 2001, the United States has referred to the crescent-shaped region from the Middle East through East Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia to the Far East as the “Arc of Instability.” It has been restructuring its military forces to respond to regional conflicts. Mackinder referred to the outer circumference of Eurasia as the “arc of crisis.” Aso saw unknown possibilities in this arc and put together a concept that shared common values and linked the countries of that region together.*21 This speech was drafted by Tomohiko Taniguchi, then-Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It contained clear assertions and messages that draw a clear distinction from those in previous speeches given by foreign ministers.*22 To ensure the success of the “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity,” he emphasized Eurasia, particularly the Middle Eastern nations, at the epicenter of various conflicts and where democratization has lagged.*23 Notably, Aso sought to clarify the position of Japanese diplomacy toward countries committed to democratization and a market economy by combining the values of freedom, prosperity, and arc with Japan’s past efforts. However, this “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” raised the alarm among ASEAN countries because of its overemphasis on liberal values such as human rights and democracy. Abe was conscious that this concept had become known as the “Aso Doctrine,” and the term “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” would gradually disappear. Abe’s “Diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map” subsequently replaced the “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity.”   5. “Diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map” – Abe and the Indo-Pacific In September 2012, Abe ran for the presidency of the LDP. On December 16, 2012, he won the 46th general election for the House of Representatives, winning 294 seats. Once again in the prime minister’s chair, Abe learned from the past in naming his second Abe administration the “crisis breakthrough cabinet.” Conversely, his first cabinet in 2006 had been derided as a “cabinet of chums.” In his keynote address at the inauguration of his second administration, Abe announced, premised on the rebuilding of the Japan-US alliance, that “our diplomacy will be for us to develop a strategic diplomacy based on the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law, and we view the world as a whole as if looking at a globe.”*24 He broadly outlined a diplomatic concept that could be termed “Diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map.” Notably, the pursuit of strategic diplomacy was based on the Japan-US alliance and respect for universal values such as democracy and basic human rights.*25 Its geographical scope traced an arc from Japan through the ASEAN nations, India, and the southern rim of Eurasia in a multifaceted expansion of countries cooperating with Japan. Japan’s postwar diplomacy has had a history of issues surrounding reparations. It was significant for Japan to unpick these issues, as many countries were wary of whether Japan could be trusted. To achieve this, Abe actively engaged in “summit diplomacy” with various countries and regions immediately following his administration’s inauguration. He made 81 visits to 76 countries and regions during his tenure. Abe’s “Diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map” ultimately took the “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” as its prototype in a new form of value diplomacy that brought Japanese values to the fore. Nevertheless, Abe’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine and issues surrounding recognition of historical events meant that this diplomacy did not live up to expectations in Japanese relations with China and South Korea.*26 The “Indo-Pacific” Concept The “Indo-Pacific” is an important diplomatic concept in discussions of Japan’s foreign policy strategy today. This concept first made its first formal appearance in August 2007, during the first Abe administration, when Abe delivered a speech to the Indian Parliament titled “Confluence of the Two Seas.” In this speech, Abe stated the following: “The Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and prosperity. Therefore, a broader Asia that broke geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form. Our two countries have the ability—and the responsibility—to ensure that it broadens yet further and nurture and enrich these seas to become seas of clearest transparency.”*27 He called on then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consider the possibility of a new phase in Japan-India relations. Five years and four months later, on December 27, 2012, shortly after the inauguration of the second Abe administration, Abe published a new English-language article titled “Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond” as a further development of the “Confluence of the Two Seas.” The paper, written before prime minister Abe took office, stated that “Peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean are inseparable from those in the Indian Ocean” (with China’s maritime expansion in the South China sea in mind). It went on to say that the four maritime democracies—Japan, the US (Hawaii), Australia, and India—should work together to form a “diamond” of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. Abe testified in a later interview about how he came up with the “Indo-Pacific” concept: “It was during the Koizumi administration (that I focused on the Indo-Pacific). I served in the Koizumi Cabinet as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (April 2001–September 2003) and then as Chief Cabinet Secretary (October 2005–September 2006). During this time, I witnessed the Prime Minister’s considerable difficulty in dealing with China and Korea. (omission) I believe that rather than being confined to bilateral relations, dealing with China and South Korea from a broader perspective, with a panoramic view of the world map. In the process, I became deeply interested in India.”*28 For Abe, the new concept of the Pacific and Indian Oceans as one “Indo-Pacific” resulted from his growing interest in India and developing his “Confluence of the Two Seas” concept.*29 Birth of FOIP Later, in his keynote speech at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICADVI) in August 2016, Abe called for cooperation with Africa to “make the seas that connect the two continents into peaceful seas governed by the rule of law.” Furthermore, he said, “Japan bears the responsibility of fostering the confluence of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and Asia and Africa into a place that values freedom, the rule of law, and the market economy, free from force or coercion, and making it prosperous.” This marked the birth of the FOIP. Abe dared to say “free from force or coercion.” This can be viewed as a demonstration of Japan’s position to the world that it would not permit China to forcibly change the status quo.   6. Eurasian Diplomacy 2.0 Competition and Cooperation with China According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FOIP can be defined as “the further expansion of the diplomatic concepts of ‘Diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map’ and ‘Proactive Contribution to Peace’. This was possible by treating the dynamism created by combining the two continents of Asia and Africa and the two oceans of the Pacific and Indian Oceans as a single comprehensive concept.” The following three pillars*30 are set out as necessary to achieve the FOIP: (1) promotion and establishment of the rule of law, freedom of navigation, free trade.; (2) pursuit of economic prosperity (improving connectivity and strengthening economic partnerships, including EPA/FTA and investment agreements); (3) commitment to peace and stability (capacity building for maritime law enforcement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation, etc.) The FOIP is characterized by its comprehensive approach. This includes maritime security, economy, development, and connectivity, and it presents the concept of the “Indo-Pacific” rather than the “Asia-Pacific” as its scope. However, this “Indo-Pacific” concept is not unique to Japan. The United States, Australia, India, and other countries also possess this concept. Moreover, in June 2019, ASEAN announced its version of the Indo-Pacific concept (AOIP – ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific).*31 Nonetheless, behind the “Indo-Pacific” concept in Japan is the uncertainty of China’s rise in the international community and a desire to minimize any such impact, should it exist. Therefore, Japan has emphasized facing China primarily through multilateral cooperation while entrenching the framework by expanding its global partner relations based on the Japan-US alliance. However, the FOIP has another notable feature. In referring to the creation of new value through interactions between the two oceans, the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it considers both competitive and cooperative views of relations with China. In other words, in the face of various threats in the Indo-Pacific today, Japan aims to make the region free and open by ensuring a rule-based international order, incorporating the rule of law, freedom of navigation, peaceful settlement of disputes, and promotion of free trade through the FOIP. This is competition with China. However, in October 2018, Abe gave the following statement in a joint China-Japan press release issued on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty: “The relationship between China and Japan is now moving into a new stage, from one of competition to one of cooperation. With Premier Li Keqiang, I look forward to making significant progress in the relations between our two countries. (omission) We are neighbors. We are partners in mutual cooperation and do not pose a threat to each other. I confirmed this principle with Premier Li at our recent summit meeting.” He added, “Together, we will play a constructive role working toward peace and prosperity for the international community. We are in complete agreement on this matter.”*32 This statement is made for cooperation with China. Thus, the FOIP encompasses competition and cooperation, and Abe’s comments suggest that he would rather see China as a cooperative than a competitive partner. However, Japan is committed to having China join the FOIP and working together for peace and prosperity in the region. In this sense, the value of the concept will change going forward depending on whether Japan positions China in the FOIP as a competitor or cooperator (or co-power). Therefore, Japan will likely be required to make new diplomatic choices, with FOIP as a critical approach. Thus, it will be necessary to determine the position of both sides swiftly so that the FOIP will always remain a cohesive, rather than an antagonistic, interpretation of Eurasian diplomacy.  Universality of shared values Next, I examined the current situation and realities of Japan’s Eurasian diplomacy drawing from the Diplomatic Blue Book. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an organization responsible for protecting its country and negotiating with foreign nations. To understand the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to understand Japanese diplomacy. Therefore, I analyzed its position each year from its first issue in 1957 through 2021, taking “Eurasia” as a keyword, and found the following. The word “Eurasia” has appeared 45 times to date. It was used until 1992, appearing in issues No. 26 (1982), No. 30 (1986), and No. 36 (1992), and between No. 59 (2016) and No. 62 (2019) in the phrase “stability and development are important for all in the whole of Eurasia, including Japan.” Therefore, different people may interpret the term “Eurasia” differently regarding whether it refers to Japan’s posture toward Eurasia. Table1: Changes in the number of times countries and regions appear in the Diplomatic Blue Book in key years (Created by the author) Next, an extracted terms list was compiled for each pivotal year across the 26 years from 1996, when the Hashimoto administration was first inaugurated, to 2021, and the number of times the same words appeared was tallied to see how regions of interest to Japan fluctuated over time.*33 In 1996, when the Hashimoto administration took office, Asia ranked first, followed by Europe, the US, the Pacific, and Russia. In 2006, when the “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” appeared, Africa ranked first, followed by the US, Asia, China, and Iraq. Further, in 2016, when the FOIP was raised, Asia ranked first, followed by the US, China, the Pacific, and Africa. However, from 2019, when the Abe administration ended, to 2020, when the Suga administration came to power, the US ranked first, followed by China, Pacific, Africa, and South Korea (including Asia). Incidentally, in 2021, during the Kishida administration, the United Nations ranked first, followed by India, the Pacific, the US, and China. From this table1, we can draw the following three points. First, Asia, the US, and China have been at the top of the list every year, indicating that Japan has always pursued its diplomacy with an awareness of the US, China, and Asia. Second, there is less Japanese interest in the region from central Eurasia to its Western tip. Third, there is a lack of perspective in seeing Eurasia as a totality. Therefore, Japan’s Eurasian diplomacy appears not to exist. However, is it safe to conclude that Eurasian diplomacy need not exist? Notably, the diplomatic strategy (from Hashimoto’s speech up to the FOIP) reveals that the bi-polarized East-West conflict between the US and the Soviet Union (now Russia) and the ensuing significantly increased diplomatic freedom have provided an opportunity to demonstrate the shift from a traditional passive to a proactive diplomatic approach both domestically and internationally. Nevertheless, by setting forth values in freedom, prosperity, value, and a panoramic view of the world map, Japan’s immediate neighbors and countries of Eurasia can understand Japan’s thoughts and what it hopes to accomplish in the future, although they are physically distant from Japan. Postwar Japan has learned from its bitter experiences of the past. To prevent a repetition of such horrors, Japan has bolstered its presence in the international community while maintaining and defending an international order based on universal values and the rule of law. Why is it then that Japan steadily achieves results in this process? The reasons for this can be summarized in the following two points. First, Japan has established appropriate relationships with countries that can share its values. Second, Japan has maintained minimal relations with countries that pose obstacles to these shared values. We first examine to what extent a shared perception of threats can be achieved based on these shared values between Japan and friendly countries. For example, given that perceptions of China differ from one country to another and that the future of China itself is uncertain, even a slight sense of caution toward China carries risk in that it emphasizes only negative aspects. Regarding the second point, all countries, including Japan, have their values and principles. Therefore, it is easy to envisage conflicts between these values. Mutual recognition of shared values, which forms the fundamental premise for smooth diplomatic negotiations, is essential. Thus, how should Japan’s foreign policy choices be formulated, given the unprecedented speed with which seismic shifts occur in Eurasia? A clue to this is hidden in the following three resolutions made by Prime Minister Kishida at a press conference on October 4, 2021: 1)  Determination to fully defend the universal values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law 2)  Determination to fully safeguard the peace and stability of Japan 3)  Determination to lead the international community by confronting global-level issues and contributing to humankind Naturally, the only way to achieve these three resolutions is to increase the number of countries that share values with Japan, with the Japan-US alliance as a cornerstone, and spend time and effort building up a realistic dialog with countries with obstacles to sharing values. Consequently, it is important to arrive at the universality of shared values, which forms the basis of the international order. This is not to say that maintaining relations with major powers such as the US, China, and Russia is the sole golden rule. Instead, countries that can take the lead in creating the international order must increase the number of friendly countries to the greatest extent possible and wield diplomatic power to spread universal shared values from multiple angles. “Diplomatic power” here does not merely refer to traditional political, military, and economic power. To find a solution to this difficult problem, we must now consider the pillars that form the foundation of this diplomatic power, following the times and the situation. Search for a New Horizon in Japanese Diplomacy The ability to conduct multilateral diplomacy with many countries can be a significant advantage when considering Japanese diplomacy today. For example, the latest ranking (January 2012) of the Henley Passport Index (by the British consulting firm Henley & Partners) compares global passports based on the number of countries and regions that can be traveled to without visas; Japan again took the top spot this year. Currently, Japanese passport holders can travel to 192 countries and regions.*34 Japan has a strong international reputation for reliability and should exploit its rare geographic advantages. Japan has steadily built up its diplomatic achievements by using its ability to develop its relations with each country, the US, China and Russia, without damaging relations with the other powers. In other words, Japan has the potential and is in the best position to become a bridge between the three. As Figure 3 shows, one option for Japan going forward and the one that should be examined and selected is to search for a new horizon for Japanese diplomacy, called “Eurasian diplomacy,” and add this to the “Eurasia” perspective present in the FOIP. Unlike the FOIP, Eurasian diplomacy is a diplomatic concept viewed solely in terms of its geographic scope and covers many countries and regions with different languages and cultures. Therefore, choosing Eurasian diplomacy and taking the first steps forward will require more effort than in the past. Moreover, the region is one in which various countries’ interests intertwine, and Japan must make the corresponding commitments and preparations. If the question is asked as to whether Japan cannot (or does not need to) develop Eurasian diplomacy, then the answer is “no.” Figure 3: Positioning of “Eurasian Diplomacy 2.0”   The basis of the postwar Japan-US relationship has been shared fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. Since the Rambouillet Summit in 1975, Japan, as a member of the liberal democracies, has made steady, albeit step-by-step, progress contributing to the formation of a stable international order. However, we are aware of the difficulties in sharing these democratic values. China, Japan’s neighbor, has dramatically different standards, even for universal values such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. The Kishida administration has inherited the vision of the FOIP. It will continue to engage in intense diplomatic negotiations with major powers such as the US, Russia, and China. In this context, it should be reaffirmed that many countries and regions in Eurasia can help and support Japan. This determines Japan’s future diplomatic choices. Therefore, the future development of Kishida’s diplomacy should be watched closely.   Conclusion The most important issue addressed in this book is the scarcity of books and articles focusing squarely and comprehensively on Japan’s Eurasian diplomacy. Japan’s postwar diplomacy played out as a mixture of glory and setbacks. Eurasia, in particular, is a vast continent in which polities, economies, and cultures are concentrated, while each country and region have their contradictions and conflicts. In this sense, Eurasia’s position in the international community makes it an extremely attractive continent for which it is difficult to formulate a strategy. Nonetheless, while Japan’s positioning of Eurasia can be concluded from its efforts toward each country and region and individual specific results, there appears to be a lack of a Japanese perspective taking an overall view on Eurasian diplomacy. Further, when discussing the ideal direction for Japanese diplomacy in the future, the Japan-US alliance is always in question. As the international strategic environment surrounding Japan undergoes dramatic shifts, Japanese diplomacy requires a balanced international perspective and the ability to make calm and objective judgments. Diplomacy is not the sole responsibility of the government; it also depends on the understanding and support of individual citizens regarding the complexity of international affairs and the course that Japan should take. In envisioning the next phase of Japanese diplomacy, we should pursue an earnest diplomatic strategy to expand Japan’s circle of friends, regardless of whether they share our values, while continuing to pursue global interests beyond Japan’s self-interest.     Notes *1 See “Prime Minister Hashimoto’s Speech at the Keizai Doyukai (Members’ Roundtable Meeting)” (July 24, 1997), Diplomatic Blue Book 1998, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1998, p. 209. *2 In November 2018, the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” was changed to the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision.” *3 In principle, the Diplomatic Blue Book summarizes changes in international affairs and Japan’s diplomatic activities during the year through December of its publication and has been published annually since its first issue in 1957. While other government agencies publish white papers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is unique in publishing a “Blue Book,” following the British Parliament’s Blue Book. The report summarizes the Japanese government’s foreign policy and recent international developments, allowing the reader to understand which areas and fields Japan’s diplomacy has (or has not) focused on each year. *4 In 2009, JFIR published a policy proposal titled “Positive Pacifism and the Future of the Japan-US Alliance.” ( Incidentally, at that time, Kenichi Ito took the position of “negative pacifism” after the war, in which Japan used the US as much as possible but minimized the extent to which the US used Japan, thereby minimizing costs and risks for Japan. However, after the Cold War, with the “war on terror” taking root in global security issues, he stressed the need for “positive pacifism” to play an appropriate role. *5 Notably, this book does not delve deeply into the history of Japanese diplomacy. This is because over 70 years have passed since the end of the Second World War; in addition to the history of discussions in the Diet, the number of papers documenting Japanese diplomacy has also expanded enormously, making it difficult to cover everything in a finite number of pages. *6 See Yūrashia taidō (Norio Horie, Iwanami Shinsho, 2010), pp. 26-30 [in Japanese] *7 In addition to “land routes” and “sea routes,” in recent years, China has been expanding its influence in the digital sector through the Belt and Road initiative. This point is discussed in dejitarushirukurōdo jōhō tsūshin no chiseigaku [Digital Silk Road: Geopolitics of Information and Communications] (Dai Mochinaga, Nihon Keizai Shinbun Publishing, 2022), pp. 66-128. [in Japanese] *8 See Hashimoto ryūtarō gaikō kaiko-roku [Hashimoto Ryutaro’s Diplomatic Memoirs], (edited by Makoto Iokibe and Taizo Miyagi, Iwanami Shoten, 2013), pp. 61-63. [in Japanese] *9 See Hashimoto ryūtarō gaikō kaiko-roku, ibid., pp. 64-73. *10 For a complete overview of the diplomatic world in the Northern Territories negotiations, see Hoppōryōdo kōshō-shi [A History of the Northern Territories Negotiations] (Yoshikatsu Suzuki, Chikuma Shinsho, 2021). [in Japanese] *11 See Hashimoto ryūtarō gaikō kaiko-roku, ibid., pp. 80-82. *12 See the Cabinet Office website ( *13 Kazuhiko Togo points out the following: “The essence of Hashimoto’s Eurasian diplomacy can be summed up in this one point: utilize Russia to empower Japan, caught between the US and China, and bring Russia into the new dynamics of the Asia-Pacific in a manner favorable to Japan. This process will also resolve the Northern Territories issue, which has been the biggest challenge for Japanese diplomacy to date.” See Nihon no 「yūrashia gaikō」 (1997 〜 2001) [Japan’s Eurasian Diplomacy (1997-2001)] (Kazuhiko Togo,, 2014)( *14 See the 1998 Diplomatic Blue Book, p. 210. *15 See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( *16 Although Central Asia is said to be a site of power struggles among the major powers, Tomohiko Uyama notes that the domestic political, security, and other conditions in each country are basically stable; they have not been seriously affected by the turmoil in neighboring Afghanistan. chūōajia “kokusai tero” to “gurētogēmu” no kyojitsu [Central Asian “International Terrorism” and the Blending of Fact and Fiction surrounding the “Great Game”], Diplomacy (Vol. 69, 2021) [in Japanese] *17 As a side note, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Global Forum co-hosted the 7th Tokyo Forum and Central Asia Symposium, as well as the 10th Tokyo Forum. Among other things, the latter creates Central Asian culinary videos in a form not restricted by politics, economics and other factors. Available from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( *18 See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( *19 See totetsumonai Nippon [Extraordinary Japan] [ (Taro Aso, Shinchosha Shinsho, 2007), pp. 9-15. *20 “Speech by Foreign Minister Aso at the JFIR’s 20th Anniversary Event” (March 12, 2007, The International House of Japan) *21 Aso loudly rebuked the terms “arc of crisis” and “arc of instability” used in reference to a particular region as a crisis produced by Western actions and sought a path of coexistence and co-prosperity. See totetsumonai Nippon, pp. 160-165. *22 See Nihon no senryaku gaiko [Japanese Strategic Diplomacy] (Yoshikazu Suzuki, Chikuma Shinsho, 2017), pp. 84-98. [in Japanese] *23 According to Suzuki, the “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” and “Diplomacy of panoramic views” started out as a strategic theory targeting Russia but later shifted its strategic focus away from Russia to China in response to China’s accelerating moves toward maritime expansion. See Suzuki, ibid, pp. 83-84. *24 See “Abe’s Diplomacy from a Global Perspective – Interview with Shotaro Yachi, Cabinet Secretariat Counselor (1)” ( *25 See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( *26 For more information on the wavering Japan-China relations following Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine, see gaikō anzen hoshō senryaku-sei no tsuikyū [Diplomacy and Security: The Pursuit of Strategy] (Ken Jimbo), Kenshō Abe seiken hoshu to riarizumu no seiji [An examination of conservatism under the Abe administration and the politics of realism] (Asia Pacific Initiative, Bunshun Shinsho, 2022), pp. 171-176. *27 See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( *28 See gaikō [Diplomacy] (Diplomacy, Editorial Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vol. 65, 2021), p. 95. *29 See dare mo kakanakatta abe shinzō [What Nobody Wrote About Shinzo Abe] (Tomohiko Taniguchi, Asuka Shinsha, 2020), pp. 222-228. *30 See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( *31 The ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, (June 23, 2019), ( Moreover, there are differences in the vision held by the US, Australia, India, ASEAN etc., but I will not address these here. *32 See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( *33 Terms such as “Japan” and regions within Japan are omitted from this tabulation. *34 The Henley Passport Index, 2022 ( (This is the English translation of an article written by TAKAHATA Yohei, Distinguished Research Fellow/ Director of Strategy and Policy, The Japan Forum on International Relations, which originally appeared on Japan’s Diplomacy in Eurasian Dynamism, Chuokoron-Shinsha, 2022.) p{text-align:justify}


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The Japan Forum on International Relations(JFIR) is a private, non-profit, independent, and non-partisan organization, which was established for the purpose of encouraging its members and the public at large to study, discuss, exchange and propose ideas on foreign policies and international affairs, thereby enlightening the public in and out of Japan. In doing so, however, JFIR as an institution neither takes nor rejects any specific political

positions on these matters. Though JFIR issues from time to time specific policy recommendations on important matters of the day, the responsibility for the contents of the recommendations concerned lies solely with those who sign them. JFIR was founded on March 12, 1987 in Tokyo and was reincorporated on April 1, 2011 as a “public interest foundation” with the authorization granted by the Prime Minister of Japan in recognition of its achievements.