Japan’s Strategic Indo-Pacific Pivot: Views from India, China, and Southeast Asia

Title: 1330 | Japan’s Strategic Indo-Pacific Pivot: Views from India, China, and Southeast Asia
Area: Southeast Asia
Stream: International Relations
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Minhaj Ahmed Khan, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (organizer, presenter, chair)
Jieruo Li, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (presenter)
Nidhi Prasad, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan (presenter, discussant)


China’s rise has led to Japan’s own pivot to counter the country’s growing regional strategic and economic expansion. While Japan’s foreign policy has slowly begun to come out of its self-imposed non-confrontational style, the country still maintains its goals of being a state that wishes for a rule-based order and peaceful region. This has led to the emergence of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ construct and the manifestation of strategies such as the concept of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ and the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’—among other strategic partnerships. This panel aims to research the impact of these policies in various countries within the realm of the ‘Indo-Pacific’. It comes to the conclusion that the response of these countries has been mixed. While some countries have wholeheartedly embraced Japan’s pivot, seeing their own strategic gains, other countries have shown mediocre enthusiasm or have maintained their own distant foreign policy to avoid an entrapment in newly emerging great power politics.

Panel Abstracts:
Limitations Affecting India's Full Commitment to the Indo-Japan Strategic Partnership and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
From the ‘Look East’ policy to the ‘Act East’ policy, India has been making a strategic pivot towards East Asia to assert itself as a regional power. This has manifested in a growing strategic partnership leading to the emergence of an Indo-Japan Strategic Partnership. Further, India has an informal strategic dialogue with Japan, the United States, and Australia known as the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’.However, while military exercises and cooperation have increased, there have been cracks in the partnership, especially when it comes to the Quadrilateral security dialogue. This paper seeks to research the restraints preventing India’s full participation. It looks at India’s history with the Non-Aligned Movement and the subsequent shift to an Indo-Russian Strategic Partnership. It analyses the high dependence India has on Russia for military and technical cooperation—despite diversification. The paper further analyses India’s unwillingness to tilt the balance of power against China due to the deep dependence on trade and the dire security scenario. It comes to the conclusion that while India shares a deep commitment to maintaining deep strategic ties with Japan and wishes to further continue the Quadrilateral dialogue, India does not wish to risk alienating Russia and China.Keywords: Indo-Japan Strategic Partnership, Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, Balance of Power

Japan-New Zealand Cooperation Beyond Quad 2.0
The ‘Indo-Pacific’ has been a popular term in the last decade; along with it there are many relevant concepts proposed to maintain order in the Indo-Pacific region. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is one such cooperative platform. It was revived in 2017 after being created in 2007 by the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The four founding members are: The USA, Japan, Australia, and India. It aims at maintaining a rule-based order and provides the globe with a secured and free Indo-Pacific region. The Quad has been known as a value-based institution. However, New Zealand, as a dominant player in the Pacific, is not a member. It is unclear why New Zealand did not take part in forming the Quad, but whether it will join the Quad 2.0 remains debatable and lacks research—which this paper will address. This paper argues that the New Zealand government has no interest in joining the Quad 2.0 because first, the Ardern Administration promotes an independent foreign policy based on being a good neighbor and a small trading nation; second, New Zealand is not willing to sacrifice its economic relationship with China, taking into account the fact that the Chinese government strongly opposes the Quad. Moreover, this article also analyzes possible cooperation between New Zealand and Japan, particularly over maritime security, and how should New Zealand approach Japan without provoking China.Keywords: Quadrilateral, Maritime Security, Japan-New Zealand Relations

Alliances and Alignments: Japan's Strategic Partnerships in the Indo-Pacific Region
The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of regional security in the Indo-Pacific and is a central pillar of Japan’s foreign policy. The dynamism and uncertainty in this region driven by shifts in the relative balance of power between China and the United States has prompted Japan within the last two decades to declare and invest in “multi-layered cooperativerelationships” with nations like India, Australia, etc. This paper argues that there is a new pattern of international relations emerging in Japan’s approach to the Indo-Pacific. Realist literature has dealt with concepts of balancing and bandwagoning as well as mini-lateral and quadrilateral coalitions. However, there is a lack of attention to the ambiguous yet ubiquitous framework of ‘strategic partnerships.’ By drawing on previous works on ‘security pluralism,’ this paper first attempts to compare the costs and benefits of strategic partnerships over alliances as well as examine their influence in the international security environment. Secondly, it compares Japan’s strategic partnerships with India, Australia, and ASEAN nations to evaluate what role it plays in its security calculations. The paper concludes that while alliances have stronger assets and bureaucratic coordination, in a volatile security environment, strategic partnerships allow for flexibility in decision-making as well as prioritizing one’s national interests over entrapment risks. For Japan, these partnerships buttress the existing U.S. regional alliance network, and its goal of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’; they also serve as platforms for hedging against ambivalent U.S. security commitments.Keywords: Japanese foreign policy; U.S.-Japan Security Alliance; Strategic Partnerships; Indo-Pacific

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