Japan’s Pivot to Indo-Pacific


Japan’s decision to adopt collective self-defence is again emphasizing the tensions, which continue soaking the relations in Pacific. The essay explores Japan’s pivot to Indo Pacific, its pros and cons. The conclusion is that the Japan’s pivot to Indo Pacific doesn’t suit the interest of Japan and the region.

Sudden transformation in Security and Foreign Policy:

The World War II mentality has taken rebirth where Japan under Abe is responding to U.S appeal for re-balancing China. This is being said for a number of reasons.

  1. The establishment of the National Security Council (NSC), the adoption of the National Security Strategy (NSS), and the National Defence Program Guidelines (NDPG) in Japan.
  2. New Defence Program guidelines: “National Security Strategy”; contains several key phrases such as “proactive contribution to peace”, “Dynamic Joint Defence Force” it gives serious consideration to the two most important factors in the strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, China’s rise and the United States’ rebalancing towards the region.
  3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan states that, “Proactive Contributor to Peace” means that Japan needs to contribute more actively to the peace and stability of the region and the international community, while coordinating with other countries including its ally, the United States”. This interpretation clearly indicates the country’s desire to reply U.S appeal to contain China.
  4. Article 9 of Japanese constitution says, “[w]e, the Japanese people resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government”. but for now one can clearly see the dramatic shift in the interpretation of this article.
  5. Abe is the first prime minister to visit all the South East Asian Countries in a year. It is clear that Japan is shifting its focus from Asia Pacific to Indian Ocean while coordinating with the United States.
  6. After many years of negotiations, India and Japan have signed a memorandum on cooperating in nuclear energy.
  7. SimilarlyJapan signed 16 agreements in the fields of high-speed trains, defence equipment and technology, security, infrastructure, education and economy including civil nuclear energy.
  8. Japan is to deploy troops and build missile batteries in the East China Sea Islands. Japan is focusing on its military build-up particularly since Abe came to power.

Japan’s Foreign Economic Policy:

Japan’s Foreign Economic Policy under new prime minister has joined negotiations with European Union for free trade agreements. He then decided to join the Trans Pacific Partnership TPP in 2015. In 2015 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced $110 billion (¥13 trillion) in aid for infrastructure development in Asia over the next five years. When it comes to domestic economic outlook, Japan has a weak wage growth with 0.2 GDP % quarter on quarter expanding GDP. Since Shinzo Abe came to power the domestic economic outlook seems unsteady. From 2012-2014 the population, GDP per capita, Industrial production, Investments and Public Debt of Japan decreased significantly.

Japan’s domestic growth seems unsteady where GDP per capita has decreased in last four years. Therefore, Japan should focus on its economic development, rather than revisiting its traditional military centric policies of Second World War.

Table 1.1

S/No. Subject 2012 2013 2014 2015
1 Population (million) 128 127 127 127
2 GDP per capita (USD) 46,792 38,187 36,337 32,484
3 Investments % 3.2 2.6 1.1 0.1
4 Industrial Production % 0.2 -0.6 2.1 -0.9
5 Public Debt (% GDP) 210 212 212 209



Japan’s pivot to Indo Pacific has produced both hopes and fears for Asian Countries. The country’s desire for military build-up and containment of china is dangerous. There are a number of reasons for this, the military build-up and deployment of missile batteries in East China Sea may bring an unintended war to Japan.

China is the perceived stalemate of U.S hegemony in the region, where as joining a U.S or Chinese bloc is dangerous. As a U.S ally its active support to India, will help the country to develop such capabilities which may nuclearize the Indian Ocean. Therefore Japan should restrict its support to India in terms of defence. The Pivot to Indo Pacific has brought hopes 126 for states like India, but fears for the region.

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