Japan must play core role in promoting multifaceted cooperation

It is welcoming that the leaders of the countries concerned have affirmed their cooperation on security and other issues in a vast region stretching from the Korean Peninsula to Japan and the Indo-Pacific.

Japan has a significant role to play at the core of multilayered cooperation, as indicated by the fact that a series of major talks were held in Tokyo.

The leaders of the Quad, a framework for cooperation among the four countries of Japan, the United States, Australia and India, agreed at the summit to cooperate in various fields to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

This is the second in-person Quad summit since September last year. Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also attended the meeting, with his administration sticking to the policy of the previous one.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a head-on challenge to the principles written in the U.N. Charter. A similar thing must not be allowed to happen in the Indo-Pacific.”

Stressing the importance of sovereignty and territorial integrity regarding the Ukraine crisis, the Quad joint leaders’ statement emphasized that “all countries must seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.”

The leaders did not criticize Russia by name in the statement out of consideration for India, which has traditionally maintained friendly relations with Russia. At this Quad summit, India has again distinguished itself from the Group of Seven advanced nations in avoiding direct criticism of Moscow.

However, the destabilization of the international situation will also have a negative impact on India. Japan should be persistent in its efforts to urge India to cooperate with other nations so that New Delhi does not become a loophole in the G7-led sanctions against Russia.

China has been stepping up its hegemonic behavior in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, expanding its influence over small island states and other nations.

The joint statement’s emphasis on compliance with international law and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight to “meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order” should serve as a check on China.

The four countries have said they aim to provide more than $50 billion in infrastructure assistance, with nations in Southeast Asia and other countries in mind. It is important to utilize Japan’s expertise in aid to promote high-quality infrastructure development.

In the area of advanced technology, too, where competition with China is intensifying, the four countries intend to deepen their cooperation on 5G, a high-speed, high-capacity communications standard.

The four countries have already been providing assistance to developing countries, mainly in areas such as infectious disease control and disaster prevention. Further expanding the areas of cooperation and contributing to the development of other countries would lead to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Other countries, such as Britain, France and Germany, are also raising their interest in the region. It is vital to accumulate tangible results while communicating with Europe.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 25, 2022)