New Delhi: In his keynote address at Friday’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke of the implications of the Russiam invasion of Ukraine on global security, and talked at length about the need to support an “open and free” Indo-Pacific region. The event has been organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, London,,
“I myself have a strong sense of urgency that Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow. Japan has also made the decision to shift our policy towards Russia and is united with the international community in our efforts to impose strong sanctions against Russia and support Ukraine,” Kishida said, describing the history of Japan’s relations with Southeast Asia and ASEAN nations.
While not directly naming China, or referencing Japan-China relations except while answering questions from the audience, PM Kishida labelled the “security environment” around Japan as “increasingly severe” and pledged a new national security strategy for the country by the end of 2022.
“I am determined to fundamentally reinforce japan’s defense capabilities within the next five years and secure substantial increase of Japan’s defense budget, needed to effect such reinforcement. In doing so we will not rule out any options, including the so-called counter-strike capabilities, and will realistically consider what is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people. To all of you I stress that Japan’s posture as a peace-loving nation will remain unchanged,” Kishida added.
The Japan PM also stressed the importance of the Quad — which includies Japan, the United States, Australia and India — in “promoting an open and free” Indo-Pacific region.
‘Enhance existing free, open Indo-Pacific’
Referring to last month’s Quad summit in Tokyo, Kishida said, “At the recent Quad leaders’ meeting in Tokyo, we confirmed that the Quad will seek to extend more than 50 billion US dollars of further infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific over the next five years, which will be essential in promoting productivity and prosperity in this region…”
He added: “We intend to enhance existing free and open Indo-Pacific cooperation by beefing up our diplomatic efforts, including by expanding our ODA or official development assistance.”
Answering multiple questions from the audience on his stance towards China, PM Kishida admitted “issues” exist between Japan and China due to being neighbouring countries, and called on China to “act responsibly”. He also emphasised his desire to foster a “constructive and stable relationship” with China.
“We want to make this a constructive and stable relationship and with that in mind, I’ve talked over the phone with President Xi Jinping and we concurred on that view. This is an important bilateral relationship and in order to stabilise this extremely important bilateral relationship we need to enhance communication and dialogue at all levels,” he concluded.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)