Single title

Japan's New ASEAN Policy under the Free and Open Indo-Pacific

by Dr. Toshiya Takahashi

Its Continuities and Discontinuities from the Fukuda Doctrine and the Role of Cambodia

This chapter examines Japan’s emerging ASEAN policy under the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision by focusing on its continuities and discontinuities from the 1977 Fukuda doctrine, the guiding principles for Japan’s ASEAN policy from then. It provides policy proposals for Cambodia’s ASEAN Chair¬manship by focusing on Japan’s domestic rationales for its economic assistance to ASEAN and Cambodia during the FOIP era.

The 2022 Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship has started amid the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine diplomacy, increasing tensions of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and the unresolved Myanmar’s 2021 coup. It also faces an intensifying great power rivalry between the United States and China in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, Japan announced its Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision in 2016 and uses this in its ASEAN policy today. It was a reaction against China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) over its geopolitical and geo-economic presence and influence in the Indo-Pacific region, especially Southeast Asia. For ASEAN, Japan and China are two important economic partners. Thus, their competition might have negative impacts on ASEAN’s centrality and economic integration. Can ASEAN work with Japan’s FOIP while maintaining a good relationship with China? This is an important question that ASEAN must deal with in the coming years. ASEAN has to manage its Japan and China policy while maintaining its centrality and autonomy.
This chapter examines Japan’s emerging ASEAN policy under the FOIP by focusing on its continuities and discontinuities from the 1977 Fukuda doctrine, the guiding principles for Japan’s ASEAN policy from then. It provides policy proposals for Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship. Most of Japan’s new ASEAN policy under the FOIP continues its conventional policy under the Fukuda doctrine. Still, two points are different from the past: value diplomacy and a quality-of-infrastructure proposal. This chapter examines the contents of the two and the Japanese intentions behind them. First, the chapter outlines the 1977 Fukuda doctrine and focuses on its neutrality to ideologies and respect for ASEAN autonomy in Japan’s ASEAN policy. Second, it examines the idea and policy fields of the FOIP and focuses on value diplomacy and the quality-of-infrastructure proposal as the new points in Japan’s new ASEAN policy. Third, it shows how Japan-China and the US-Japan relationships will influence Japan’s competition with China. Finally, the chapter provides policy proposals for ASEAN chairmanship by focusing on Japan’s domestic rationales for its economic assistance to ASEAN and Cambodia during the FOIP era.