Japanese PM unveils strategic plan for Indo-Pacific during India visit

(Update 1: updates headline, text with Kishida’s strategic plan announcement)

New Delhi, Mar 20 (EFE).- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday unveiled his new strategic plan for an “free and open” Indo-Pacific in New Delhi, aiming to counter Chinese expansionism in the region, with an emphasis on defense and maritime capabilities.

“Japan will expand cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine oblige us to face the most fundamental challenge defending peace,” Kishida said during an event as part of his two-day official visit to India that kicked off on Monday.

The leader, who met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the same day, added that his new plan would prioritize strengthening maritime security agencies of the countries involved through developing human resources, reinforcing cooperation between coastguards and holding joint trainings.

The strategic plan – backed by Japan and the United States to counter China’s growing geopolitical clout in this region – is also being supported by the Quad alliance, in which India is a member along with Australia. .

Tokyo’s strategy includes closer cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and strengthening bilateral ties with countries in the Indo-Pacific.

The Japanese PM said that his country aimed to invest up to $75 billion in these nations by 2030 in public and private funds through investments, loans and infrastructure projects.

Apart from the two key pillars of maritime security and increasing connectivity, the plan would also include elements such as climate change and cybersecurity, Kishida revealed.

In recent years Tokyo has tried to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific, mainly due to the latter’s militarization in the South China Sea and growing hostility towards Taiwan.

New Delhi maintains a long-standing regional rivalry with China, with bilateral ties worsening due to frequent border clashes between the two due to a historic dispute.

The Ukraine conflict was also in focus earlier in the day during an encounter between Kishida and Modi.

“I have affirmed to the prime minister (Modi) our commitment to strongly uphold the international order based on the rule of law,” the Japanese PM said.

Kishida’s emphasis on upholding the international order comes in the context of the G7’s attempts to pressurize Russia to end the Ukrainian conflict, as Tokyo currently holds the rotating presidency of the group.

Moscow is a historic ally of New Delhi, which has avoided a direct condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine and simply called for ending the conflict through dialog.

“This year, Japan’s presidency of G7 and India’s presidency of the G20 – as the world is standing at a turning point wrought with difficulties – what role Japan and India should play?” Kishida asked during an event alongside Modi.

Meanwhile Modi confirmed his participation in the upcoming G7 summit, set to be held in May in Japan’s Hiroshima, on an invitation by Kishida.

The Indian PM highlighted the “shared democratic values and respect for the rule of law” between the two countries, adding that he would be welcoming his Japanese counterpart during the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi in September.

Earlier this month, a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting hosted by India ended without a joint declaration being released, precisely due to differences over the Ukraine war. EFE


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