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India an indispensable partner in realising free & open Indo-Pacific: Japanese PM Kishida

Delivering the 41st Sapru House Lecture at the Sushma Swaraj Bhawan, Prime Minister Kishida said that it is becoming more important than ever for cooperation in the world rather than division, which is a fundamental concept of FOIP.

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New Delhi: Terming India an “indispensable” partner in realising Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) policy, visiting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday outlined his country’s FOIP and of turning the region into an area that will be free from force and coercion, amid China’s growing belligerence in the South China Sea area.

Delivering the 41st Sapru House Lecture at the Sushma Swaraj Bhawan, Prime Minister Kishida said that it is becoming more important than ever for cooperation in the world rather than division, which is a fundamental concept of FOIP.

Re-enhancing connectivity, establishing the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific and making it a prosperous region are among the FOIP’s main points, said PM Kishida. Relations between Japan and China are strained over the Senkaku islands that belong to Japan, but Beijing has also laid claim to them.

“The concept of FOIP is defending freedom and rule of law”, and helping vulnerable countries in need, he said, adding that it also includes respect for diversity, inclusiveness and openness. “Do not create camps or barriers…there should be room for respect and dialogue and equal partnership among nations.”

“I believe we should aim for a world where diverse nations should exist together and prosper… and a life of dignity should be pursued,” he said adding that Japan will follow diplomacy to achieve the goals of FOIP.

“Our FOIP needs to be undertaken with various stakeholders and countries…India is indispensable… We will expand our network with nations that are important,” he added.

He outlined four pillars of FOIP, the first of which is respect for peace and rule of law for prosperity, which he said is the backbone of the policy.

Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-coercion, which should be adhered to in every corner of the world. “I reiterate that Japan strongly condemns Russian aggression on Ukraine,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Modi had also conveyed to Russia that today’s era is not of war.

PM Kishida said that Bangladesh will soon graduate from an LDC country and “we have already launched a joint study group on economic partnership with Bangladesh”.

“Japan will coordinate closely with India in the South Asian region… many Japanese companies can provide quality infrastructure,” he said.

The second pillar was addressing challenges in the Indo-Pacific way – on climate change, health, cyber space. “We will address various challenges in the Indo-Pacific way and expand cooperation for FOIP and enhance resilience and sustainability of autonomous nations,” he added.

He said Japan will lead the clean market to achieve green transformation or GX, and also help the island countries through its official development assistance programme.

The third pillar was growth and connectivity, he said, adding “By connecting we aim to help countries achieve economic growth that benefits everyone.”

The focus would be on Southeast Asia, the ASEAN and Pacific Island countries.

Regarding South Asia, he said North East India has unexplored potential.

With regard to Bangladesh, he said they will promote the Bay of Bengal in the value chain concept for growth of the region.

Fourth pillar is to protect free oceans and enhance maritime protection capability of nations, he said, adding that the damage caused by illegal fishing by nations is becoming dangerous, and Japan will strengthen efforts to combat illegal fishing.

Japan will also focus on the maritime security of nations, through diplomacy, and dispensing ODA. “We will revise the ODA charter and strengthen coordination with agencies that handle ODA,” he said, adding that they will also focus on startups.

PM Kishida said that Japan will mobilise more than USD 75 billion in public and private funds in the Indo Pacific and work with other countries.

“India is an indispensable partner and I believe the two are in a unique position in their relations and in the history of the world. India is the largest democracy and Japan and India have great responsibility for maintaining the rule of law.”

“And my hope is by working with the ASEAN and other countries we will bring peace and prosperity. By achieving FOIP, I believe the region will be a place that will be free from force and coercion,” he said.

PM Kishida also said that Japan will spare no efforts to help India achieve success in its G20 presidency.

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