Quad’s 4 major democracies must work to further deepen cooperation

It is very significant that democracies that share fundamental values have confirmed they will deepen cooperation in a wide range of fields to address the challenges facing the international community.

The summit of the leaders of the Quad, a framework for cooperation among Japan, the United States, Australia and India, was held in Washington. Following an online meeting in March, this was the first in-person summit. This summit will reportedly become a regular event.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at the beginning of the meeting, “This event demonstrates the strong solidarity between our four nations and our unwavering commitment to the common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

In a joint statement, the four countries stressed their support for developing countries in measures against the novel coronavirus and for infrastructure development. It also stated that the Quad countries will expand cooperation in the deployment of the 5G high-speed, ultra-broadband communications standard, space utilization and cybersecurity.

China is increasing its influence in the economic and advanced technology fields and continuing its hegemonic behavior. In order to maintain the rules-based free world order, it is essential for the Quad nations to strengthen their cooperation.

Based on the agreement of the Quad leaders, concrete cooperation must repeatedly be made.

At the March meeting, the Quad countries agreed to jointly provide COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, but this has stalled due to the infection surge in India. The Quad countries have to make a fresh start and make efforts to prevent infections in Southeast Asian and other countries.

The Quad countries also need to further their cooperation in the field of economic security.

The outflow of semiconductors and other emerging technologies, as well as increased dependence on China for critical goods, pose security risks. It is commendable that the Quad nations have agreed on a policy committed to “secure supply chains.”

In the joint statement, the four countries expressed concern over “challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas.” The Quad countries should repeatedly send a message to China that unilateral attempts to change the status quo are unacceptable.

Prior to the four-nation summit, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden established AUKUS, a new security cooperation framework of the United States, Britain and Australia. Japan, too, needs to consider how to cooperate with these countries in areas such as intelligence.

Biden is said to be considering the first in-person meeting between the U.S. and Chinese leaders on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit next month. The idea of dealing with China after coordinating with U.S. allies and friendly nations is appropriate.

After Suga announced his intention to step down as prime minister, North Korea, China and Russia have stepped up their military provocations. The prime minister needs to make efforts to ensure a seamless transition of power so as not to give the impression that Japan is turning inward.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sept. 26, 2021.