Since the end of World War II, the United States has maintained its position at the center of world affairs but its leadership has reached its limits. We are now in a period of transition to establish a new order. The world has become more and more multi-polar and nationalism has become dominant in various places. Against the background of this global situation, Japan should build strategic relationships multilaterally with different countries rather than exclusively depending on the United States.
1. [Australia] Deepen the Quasi-Allied Relationship in Terms of Security!
Australia is a partner with which Japan shares fundamental values, such as democracy. Many Australians call Japan its best friend in Asia and the country has the fourth largest number of people in the world learning the Japanese language. In January 2015, the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) took effect, further strengthening the economic ties between the two countries. The focus of the Japan-Australia relationship needs to be shifted toward future security. What is hoped for is to strengthen the relationship with Australia as a quasi-ally second only to the United States, a formal alliance partner of Japan, in the areas of security and defense, and to eventually form a Japan-U.S.-Australia triangle around the Pacific Ocean.
2. [India] Develop a Multilateral Relationship with the World’s Largest Democratic State!
India, the world’s largest democratic state, is an important partner with which Japan should develop a strategic relationship. Needless to say, India is situated in a geopolitically important area in terms of ensuring the safety of sea lanes. As for the economic relationship, there is a substantial amount of room for expansion as the trade volume between Japan and India currently amounts to a mere 18 billion dollars, despite India being both an emerging economy and the third largest economy in Asia, which is a huge market. The focus should be on economy and security. Efforts need to be made to increase the export of Japanese infrastructure, such as bullet trains and nuclear power plants, to address the huge demand for infrastructure in India. If we also enhance joint drills and other military exercises and simultaneously promote the export of defense equipment to India, the largest importer of weapons in the world, a win-win relationship can be achieved between Japan and India.
3. [ASEAN Countries] Provide Active Support in both the Soft and Hard Aspects!
In the current context, such as the military emergence and maritime advances of China and the relative loss of influence of the United States, partnerships with ASEAN countries have been becoming more important than ever before. Japan, which is the largest donor of official development assistance (ODA) to ASEAN countries, has established cooperative relationships with them over more than three decades. Japan should take advantage of the accumulated effects of these efforts to further enhance its relationships with ASEAN countries, which are experiencing economic growth. It is hoped that Japan will achieve integrally coordinated economic cooperation with ASEAN countries through the enhancement not only of “hard” aspects, such as the construction and improvement of infrastructure, but also of “soft” aspects, such as those associated with personnel, financial systems, and legal systems.
4. [Russia] Japan should Make Substantial Investment in the Northern Territories and Promote the Flow of People, Goods, and Money into the Region!
The Northern Territorial issue has hampered the development of the relationship between Japan and Russia. I don’t think we will find any clues to resolving this issue unless we take a different approach from those taken in the past. I would therefore propose that Japan make investments in the Northern Territories. The export of natural gas has been badly affected by the shale gas revolution and Russia is seeking investment from Japan. We should view this as an opportunity. The current framework of visa-exempt exchange should be expanded to include the economic development of the Northern Territories on the list of purposes to facilitate investment in this area. An increase in the exchange of people and firing up the economy will produce a relationship of amiable co-existence between the two countries, which should be used to work out how to solve problems.