Japan PM Kishida to unveil new Indo-Pacific plan during India visit

Mar 18, 2023 12:13 PM IST

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will make a visit to New Delhi lasting little more than 24 hours for the annual India-Japan Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to unveil a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Plan for Peace”, with a special focus on the Global South, and seek India’s support for implementing it during his visit to New Delhi on Monday.

Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. (AFP)
Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. (AFP)

One of the key objectives of the plan will be to counter China’s growing influence and assertiveness across the region and to give developing countries more options in the field of development and security, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

Kishida will make a visit lasting little more than 24 hours for the annual India-Japan Summit with his counterpart Narendra Modi on March 20. He is expected to map out the contours of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Plan for Peace” at the Sapru House Lecture organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).

While continuing with former premier Shinzo Abe’s policy of working closely with India on security and development across the Indo-Pacific, Kishida had referred to the fallout of China’s actions in the region in his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last June. It was also in this speech that Kishida first referred to the Indo-Pacific plan, saying he would unveil it in spring 2023.

“I will lay out a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Plan for Peace’ by next spring, which will strengthen Japan’s efforts to further promote the vision of a free and open IndoPacific, with an emphasis on providing patrol vessels and enhancing maritime law enforcement capabilities, as well as cyber security, digital and green initiatives, and economic security,” he had said in his speech.

The announcement included Japan’s intention to develop human resources in maritime security, rule of law and governance in at least 20 countries by training some 2,300 personnel, and to provide at least US$2 billion in assistance for the provision of maritime security equipment and enhancement of maritime transportation infrastructure in Indo-Pacific countries.

The Indo-Pacific plan is expected to figure in Kishida’s talks with Modi, during which he will seek India’s cooperation in implementing it to uphold freedom of navigation and a rules-based order in the region, the people said.

Unnamed Japanese officials told Reuters that Kishida believes India will play a significant role in realising his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific because of the country’s strategic geopolitical location in the Indian Ocean.

The Indo-Pacific plan dovetails with the Kishida government’s efforts to reinforce Japan’s defence capabilities within five years by substantially increasing military spending, both to defend the country and to contribute to peace and stability in the region.

While India is locked in a dragging military standoff with China in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Japan has been grappling with China’s unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force in East China Sea.

The Ukraine crisis is also expected to figure at the annual summit, given that Japan has been pushing for more sanctions against Russia. India has refrained from publicly criticising Russia for the war and backed diplomacy and dialogue to find a resolution to the conflict while ramping up its purchases of Russian oil.

India, which heads G20 this year, has also sought to prevent the grouping of the largest economies from being used solely for denouncing Russia, especially at a time when Beijing has joined hands with Moscow to prevent joint communiques containing any criticism of the Ukraine war.

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