The Strategic Development of Japanese Security Cooperation under Superpower Competition and the Development of the FOIP and its Operationalization

Nobushige Takamizawa
Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo

Recent Developments Regarding the FOIP

The vision of a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" was mentioned first by Prime Minister Abe in a keynote speech at TICAD VI in April 2016. Through various situational changes since that time and interactions with the countries concerned, it has been deepened and developed 1 and will continue to evolve. 2

According to recent summary statements in official explanatory documents such as the Diplomatic Bluebook and the Defense White Paper, the FOIP (Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy) aims to promote free and active economic and social activities throughout the Indo-Pacific region and to promote stability and prosperity in the region as a whole. The three pillars of the FOIP are: (1) the promotion and establishment of the rule of law, freedom of navigation, and free trade; (2) the pursuit of economic prosperity through enhancing connectivity; and (3) initiatives for ensuring peace and stability. The FOIP is not an assertion by force but is based on the recognition that the establishment, maintenance, and strengthening of order sustained by the rule of law will contribute to the entire international community. Any single country could not realize the FOIP. It is an open and inclusive concept, not intended to create new institutions or to compete with existing institutions. It will not exclude any country but will encourage each country's sense of ownership based on its vision and call for broad cooperation with partners who share the same vision of the FOIP.

In "The Spirit of the Quad" or a joint statement issued at the Japan-Australia-India-US Leaders' Video Conference held on March 12, 2021, the four leaders stated: "We bring diverse perspectives and are united in a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific"; "We strive for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion"; and that they would seek "the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific." "The Spirit of the Quad" has a high degree of affinity with the vision of the FOIP. Compared to the FOIP, however, it represents an agenda with a subtly different emphasis and a broader connotation, reflecting the "diverse perspectives."

The Japan-US Security Consultative Committee (Japan-US "2+2") held four days later referred to the outcome of the QUAD summit. The two sides renewed "their commitment to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order," while acknowledging that "China's behavior, where inconsistent with the existing international order, presents political, economic, military, and technological challenges to the alliance and the international community." The focus here is on how to address "coercion and destabilizing behavior toward others in the region, which undermines the rules-based international system" with the Japan-US alliance and the FOIP "amplified by our network of close partnerships with like-minded democracies."

Also, European countries have recently been increasing their interest in the Indo-Pacific region; the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands released documents focusing on their engagement. To name just a few examples, the UK clarified its policy of promoting engagement with the region in the Integrated Review (March 16, 2021), while the European Union (EU) adopted a comprehensive report (April 16, 2021) to formulate an EU strategy for Indo-Pacific cooperation, as part of their institutional preparedness.

In these circumstances, various Indo-Pacific-related initiatives have been launched. This essay will first trace the process of the development of Japan's strategic concept, or specifically the process of "security cooperation" that led to the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) for FY 2019 and beyond, 3 which incorporated the National Security Strategy (NSS) and the vision of the FOIP. It will also trace the changes in perceptions of superpower relations. At the same time, it will attempt to make some recommendations for Japan to review its strategic concept and build a system for effective implementation of policy measures, including the FOIP.

Promotion of Security Cooperation: International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, and Superpower Relations

This paper will review the promotion of Japanese security cooperation from the following points of view: (1) the evolution of superpower relations between the United States and China, the United States and Russia, China and Russia, and China's moves; (2) security issues in focus; (3) the focus of Japanese security cooperation and its nature; (4) significant frameworks for promoting Japanese security cooperation; and (5) the way to the birth of the "Indo-Pacific" concept and Japanese perceptions of India.

The NDPG for FY 1977 and beyond was formulated in the Cold War era --- a pre-security cooperation period when there existed "a kind of equilibrium among the three countries of the United States, the Soviet Union, and China." Security in this period meant the Japan-US Security Treaty (regime); "cooperation" meant cooperation within Japan or with the United States.

The NDPG for FY 1996 and beyond, released in the wake of the Cold War, mentions "contribution to a more stable security environment" as a new pillar. This mainly means global cooperation based on UN-centered international cooperation with no reference to the "Asia-Pacific." Although there is some mention of "neighboring regions," it is chiefly associated with confidence-building measures like security dialogues and defense exchanges.

The NDPG for FY2005 and beyond emphasizes effective responses to "new threats and diverse situations" such as terrorism and ballistic missile proliferation and mentions "cooperation with the international community" as a pillar of the "basic policy for Japan's security." It is noteworthy that the Guidelines articulate that the close relationship between Japan and the United States, based on the Japan-US Security Treaty, will play a crucial role in ensuring "peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region." In addition, a phrase, "the region stretching from the Middle East to East Asia," effectively suggests the Japanese government's attention to common issues (counterterrorism and counterpiracy) in the region, including the Indian Ocean. The Guidelines also refer to elements that lead to the current vision of the FOIP. In addition, there is some mention of the necessity to continue to pay attention to the modernization of Chinese military power and to the expanding range of Chinese naval activities in the oceans. The tone of the Guidelines is positive toward superpower relations and international cooperation.

The NDPG for FY2011 and beyond articulates, under "multilayered security cooperation in the international community," first "cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region" and then "cooperation as a member of the international community." The Guidelines identify China and Russia as the target of Japanese efforts to promote trust and establish and develop cooperative relations in non-traditional security fields. While regarding China's behavior as "a matter of concern for the region and the international community," the Guidelines admit that "China is playing an important role for the world and the region." It also states that as part of its efforts to build mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests with China, Japan should actively engage with China in cooperation with its allies to encourage it to behave responsibly in the international community. The Guidelines emphasize the balance between engagement with and hedging against China, along with cooperation with countries that share fundamental values and security interests with Japan.

The NDPG for FY2014 and beyond and the NDPG for FY2011 and beyond are alike in emphasizing "cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region" and "international cooperation" as subordinate concepts of "active promotion of security cooperation." In the NDPG for FY2014 and beyond, there is some mention of "the stabilization of the Asia-Pacific region and the improvement of the global security environment" as the "role of defense forces;" various security cooperation measures are presented systematically. In addition, the Guidelines put more emphasis on regional cooperation, such as strengthening cooperation within the trilateral frameworks of Japan-US-ROK and Japan-US-Australia, and with India. Regarding China, the Guidelines express Japan's strong concerns about its military actions, without a mention of mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. Although there is some mention of general expectations for China's positive role, much of the Guidelines' focus centers on measures to prevent and avoid contingency.

The NDPG for FY2019 and beyond articulates the vision of "a free and open Indo-Pacific" for "strengthening security cooperation" and indicates, based on it, the policy to strategically promote multilateral and multilayered security cooperation, taking into account the characteristics of the region and the realities of partner countries. Specifically, the Guidelines raise two themes: "promotion of defense cooperation and exchange" and "responses to global challenges." 4 The former identifies priorities for the country- and area-based cooperation, while the latter identifies challenges in new fields such as cyber and space, emphasizing responses to them. As the premise for these efforts, the Guidelines emphasize close cooperation with countries that share universal values and security interests, with the Japan-US alliance as the centerpiece. Regarding superpower relations, the Guidelines cites the US strategic recognition that "strategic competition with China and Russia, which are attempting to modify the global and regional order, is an important challenge" and that China, "backed by force, is attempting to change the status quo unilaterally based on its assertions incompatible with the existing international order." The Guidelines also point out that "China's military moves, combined with the non-transparency of its defense policy and military capabilities, have become a grave security concern for Japan, the region, and the international community."

The process and background of Japanese security cooperation outlined above can be summarized as follows: (1) The superpower relations are marked by a shift from the conciliatory and cooperative period of the US predominance and the existing international order (up to the NDPG for FY2005 and beyond) to a period of inter-state competition over the order in which the weight of "China as a focal point" has gradually increased. (2) Security challenges have expanded from maritime security challenges to include complex issues such as cyber and space. 5 (3) With the diversification and complication of security challenges, a mixture of measures have come into existence with different characteristics (conciliatory/cooperative, competitive, check and countercheck) and different objectives (the maintenance and restoration of the status quo; proactive improvements and the building of rules; crisis management and confidence building, etc.). (4) In addition to existing international and regional organizations and alliances, the frameworks for response fundamentally comprise varied combinations, including cooperation among countries that share universal values and security interests. (5) India began to be mentioned as a country concerned in the region from the Middle East to East Asia (the NDPG for FY2005 and beyond). The recognition of India's importance gradually deepened until it led to responses including the strengthened trilateral cooperation between Japan, the United States, and India (the NDPG for FY2019 and beyond).

The Current Status of Japanese Security Cooperation and FOIP-Related Efforts

Next, let us briefly review the current status of Japanese security cooperation and FOIP-related efforts, in accordance with the Diplomatic Bluebook, the Defense White Paper, and related explanatory documents.

First of all, the number of countries with which Japan is conducting either security cooperation or FOIP-related activities is about 20, including countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia. These two categories considerably overlap for many countries. Although the specific examples in each category are not identical, maritime security-related activities constitute a majority. Meanwhile, Japanese FOIP-related efforts do not include space- or cyber-related activities, while Japanese security cooperation deals with such themes as space situational awareness (SSA), mission assurance, the sharing of cyber threat awareness, exchange of views on cyber attack response, and participation in multilateral drills. However, the enhancement of these activities is a challenge for the future. Out of security cooperation (joint training and exercises, defense equipment and technology cooperation, capacity-building support, and inter-military branch exchange, etc.), capacity-building support alone has achieved results. But recently, an emphasis seems to have shifted to the enhancement and expansion of cooperation related to Japan's peacetime presence, such as joint training and exercises, port and airport visits. There is a relationship between these security cooperation activities and the development of ports and airports as part of FOIP-related activities. As for defense equipment and technology exchange, Japanese efforts are directed to create frameworks. Concrete cooperation has yet to be implemented.

Development of the FOIP Operational Framework and the FOIP's Roles Required for Future Strategic Development: Comprehensive Development of Measures

As the competition among superpowers intensifies, the FOIP agenda will expand, and more countries will become interested in the vision of the FOIP. Given Japan's situation with many restrictions, Japan should realize a more effective operation of the FOIP. If we can incorporate the development process of the FOIP, which is of high international interest, and systematize measures that will contribute to its objectives, we will be able to achieve a broad range of results --- through such medium as domestic, alliance, bilateral, voluntary, regional, and international mechanisms like the United Nations --- such as disseminating Japan's thinking, sharing information and plans, diversifying risks, securing initiative and reducing burdens according to priority, improving coordination efficiency, optimizing resource allocation, and establishing customs for cooperation. To this end, it is extremely important for us to acquire strategic thinking that links diverse fields, "visualize, discover, and systematize" ongoing related measures and projects, and set priorities. The following measures should be pursued.

1. Review of the NSS and Clarification of FOIP-Related Measures

The NSS sets forth universal values (freedom, democracy, respect for fundamental human rights, and the rule of law), positions Japan as an economic power under an open international economic system, and as a maritime nation pursuing an "open and stable ocean." The NSS also identifies a broad spectrum of national security issues 6 and outlines a policy for addressing these issues in a multilayered manner --- a "strategic approach to be taken for national security." Many of the keywords used in the FOIP and the QUAD Joint Statement are recognized by the NSS as terms representing international challenges; since those words are alike in concept, they are highly compatible with each other. 7

The NSS was formulated in 2013 with a 10-year life in mind, and it is now high time for its review. In the upcoming review process, it is significant to link different policies to one another organically and implement policies effectively, including the FOIP, thereby addressing challenges. Therefore, first, we should set a schedule for a broader scope of review of the NSS. It is essential to carry out a systematic review of: policies recently reviewed by the Japanese government (e.g., the Basic Plan for Ocean Policy and the Basic Plan for Space Policy); those that are subject to reviewal in 2021 (e.g., the Basic Plan for Science, Technology, and Innovation; the Integrated Innovation Strategy; and the Cybersecurity Strategy); those for which formulation some recommendations are available (e.g., the Economic Security Strategy); and various collaborative efforts underway with allies, or on a bilateral (e.g., the 2+2 meeting documents) or a voluntary basis. Alongside the formulation of a new NSS and the strengthening of the setup for promoting the FOIP, it would be convenient to prepare a work policy in advance that will provide a bird's eye view of the entire range of overlapping measures. 8 Through this review process, we should also examine strategies and plans in other fields, clarify policy and institutional issues related to security cooperation and the FOIP, 9 and show the prospects for the implementation of measures. The results of the review may serve as material for exchanging views with other countries.

2. Development of FOIP-Related Database: Demolition of Silos, Use of DX, and Dedicated Personnel

One of the issues that has become apparent in the course of promoting the FOIP is the integration of a wide array of related policy measures, which will require the sharing of massive data from government, public and private sectors at home and abroad, as well as the formation of "Communities" through lists of the parties concerned and collaboration among the "Communities." In this context, it is of vital importance to establish an all-Japan setup and to secure dedicated personnel at home. This will help clarify the sense of ownership and policy priorities, identify relevant policy measures across sectors, secure consistency, and avoid duplication. At this moment, there may be many projects undertaken by the private sector. The development of the all-Japan setup will highlight hidden projects and build a more efficient and effective implementation system. It is crucial for Japan, lagging behind in digital transformation (DX), to promote the accumulation and sharing of data (projects, people, goods, money, technology, and information) from this perspective, 10 thereby strengthening national power. 11 Regarding international cooperation, Japan should promote using checklists, taking, for example, the SDGs as a reference, and create a setup to establish a habit of near real-time information sharing and cooperation expansively among the people concerned.

3. Identification of Priority Areas for Japan

As the FOIP agenda extends, it becomes necessary to consider the identification of priority areas for Japan, the extent to which Japan will take the lead in these areas, and how to improve efficiency by expanding cooperative relationships with countries that have a keen interest in those issues that constitute Japan's priorities. 12 Based on this premise, we should consider Japan's situation and especially the fact that the environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly harsh due to China's coercive stance regarding the Senkaku Islands and Taiwan. Japan's security cooperation should emphasize information sharing, activities related to Japan's presence, and the strengthening of confidence-building measures to prevent escalation. Although the focus of Japan's security cooperation will be on maritime security, efforts should be made for space and cyber domains as well. It is important to develop infrastructures such as airports, ports, submarine cables, and data centers; conduct, expand, and efficiently coordinate various joint training and drills; expand the quality, quantity, and speed of information sharing; and promote equipment and technology cooperation. Promoting cooperation, also with European countries, will lead to regional peace and stability and to enhancing regional and international response capabilities. Side by side with these measures, it is necessary, especially with China, to promote security dialogue, improve transparency regarding policies, intentions, and capabilities, and continue efforts to identify issues that both countries can jointly address while promoting mutual understanding, not excluding discrepancies, in both bilateral and multilateral contexts.

4. Addressing Cyberspace Issues: Piles of Challenges

One of the vital challenges that has emerged amid the growing interest in the Indo-Pacific by Europe and other countries concerned is how to deal with cyberspace issues. Given, in particular, the public use of cyberspace, the urgency of protecting related critical infrastructure, the significant impact of cyberspace on other fields, and China's digital Silk Road, including digital surveillance, and its moves associated with 5G, Japan needs to emphasize this area. In addition, considering Japan's backwardness in DX and the trends of international rule-making for cyberspace, 13 the FOIP is effective as either a cooperative or a competitive strategy and as a medium for Japan to communicate its claims internationally, improve itself, and implement exhaustive reforms. From the viewpoint of promoting effective implementation of the 2021 Cybersecurity Strategy and addressing institutional problems, it is crucial to make Japan's position widely known through the FOIP to advance resource allocation toward this area and to increase opportunities for cooperation with Europe and other countries.

Issues surrounding cyberspace have a close bearing on peacetime information sharing, activities related to Japanese presence, and the strengthening of confidence-building measures to prevent escalation, all of which Japan should emphasize as its security cooperation. European countries, which have diverse experiences in so-called hybrid warfare and influence operations, perceive cyberspace issues as a serious challenge from the point of view of establishing international rules. For Japan, too, these factors are becoming increasingly important in dealing with China's "unilateral attempt to change the status quo by coercion based on its assertions incompatible with the existing international order" in the East and South China Seas. Cyberspace issues constitute an area of vital importance in both the FOIP operations and strategic studies.

Creating "Momentum" to Strengthen National Power and Create a Rules-Based International Order

To formulate meaningful strategic concepts and plans and to make them effective, we should deepen national understanding of the future of domestic and international situations and share, with a sense of urgency, an objective recognition of Japan's position. Furthermore, we should work out "prescriptions" to survive international competitions and, to overcome restrictions no matter how demanding they may be, make a positive shift to strengthen national power by assuming some burdens and risks. The key to success is for Japan to produce tangible positive results, even in limited areas, and to create "momentum" for the formation of a rules-based international order, rather than being "defensive" or exclusively "confrontational." The FOIP is now in the spotlight, and unprecedented measures undergo testing amid the COVID-19 disaster. How to take advantage of the current situation will depend on Japan's proactivity and enduring "seriousness."

(This paper was translated into English by Tsutomu Inuzuka, SSDP Associate.)

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