India is an indispensable partner: Japanese PM Kishida

PM of Japan announces new vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific to counter China’s growing influence in the region

NEW DELHI | Updated: 21 March, 2023 4:55 am IST
Japanese PM Fumio Kishida

The Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday, March 20, unveiled his new visionary Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) plan for peace as he delivered the 41st Sapru House Lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi.

Recalling former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, who helped develop a strong relationship between India and Japan, PM Kishida said, “In 2016, former PM Shinzo Abe delivered a vision called Free and Open Indo Pacific (FOIP). Japan will expand cooperation for FOIP.”

Sharing his new visionary plan, Kishida said, “India is an indispensable partner and I believe India and Japan are in an extremely unique position in current international relations and further in the history of the world.”

“India is the largest democracy in the world. I have always viewed with great respect the way such a huge and diverse country as India has developed a democracy,” the Japanese PM added.

“It gives me great pleasure to be able to unveil my new vision on the soil of India, which is our indispensable partner in realising FOIP,” he further added.

According to the Japanese leader, the new plan had four pillars: maintaining peace, ensuring the safety of the open seas and skies, achieving global connectivity through various platforms and dealing with new global issues in cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries.

One of the key objectives of the plan will be to counter Beijing’s growing influence, assertiveness and aggression across the region and to give developing countries more options in the fields of development and security.

By choosing New Delhi to announce the new plan, PM Kishida signalled India’s importance. A former foreign minister, PM Kishida is well aware of India’s centrality in the strategy against China’s aggression in the region.

In continuity with Abe’s approach, Kishida’s new policy will place India at the centre of the new Japanese government’s plan. For both Japan and India, China’s territorial claims are a big challenge.

Meanwhile, commenting on the Ukraine conflict, PM Kishida said, “Japan condemns Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. PM Narendra Modi also told Russian President Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not one of war”. Japan opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo by force anywhere in the world.”

“In the international community, a big balance of power change is occurring and shifting dramatically. The international community has entered an era in which cooperation and division are intricately intertwined,” Kishida said.

“States should not use force or coercion in trying to drive their claims out to sea. Countries must follow the UN principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes,” he added.

“Peace is paramount. The principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo by force must be followed. The principles should be adhered to in every corner of the world,” he further added.

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