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(Project of the Kajima Institute of International Peace)

The Second Japan – Philippines Strategic Dialogue

10th March 2018
International House of Japan, Tokyo.
13:00 – 1700

The second Japan-Philippines Strategic Dialogue took place in Tokyo on the 10th of March 2018. Presentations by distinguished academics and practitioners were made over four sessions, covering a wide array of issues related to the Japan-Philippines bilateral relationship - politics, security and diplomatic policies, internal affairs and economy.

Annex 1: Program
Annex 2: List of Participants

Session 1: Politics

Moderator: Mr. Masahiro Akiyama

The first presentation was made by Professor Ramon Casiple, Executive Director, Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER). His presentation titled the Philippine Political Outlook during the Mid-Term of Duterte Administration and Projection of the 2019 Philippine Mid-term Elections, aimed to discuss three key areas, namely: the post- EDSA political situation; assessing President Duterte at two years of his presidency; and the upcoming mid-term elections and their possible implications.

The Post-EDSA political situation

The EDSA revolution, or the Philippine revolution of 1986, saw the departure of President Ferdinand Marcos and the return of the post-Marcos democracy. However, despite this change, one of the essential weaknesses became the capture of political power by the elite. To this, Paul Hutchcroft once argued that the Marcos dictatorship only gave way to an "elitist" democracy supporting "booty capitalism".

Further, after the revolution there also continued a persistence of internal conflicts, which have been attributed to the failure of the "People Power" political order to encompass the demands of the constituencies of the rebellions. Additionally, the machinery of the Marcos dictatorship was not dismantled; nor were Marcos' henchmen ever convicted, including those military officers accused of massive human rights violations. Many of them were allowed to join government, and eventually, even the Marcos family was allowed to return and rebuild their political machinery.

With regard to these changes in the post EDSA era, Professor Casiple believes that the 2016 presidential and vice-presidential elections reflect the aversion of the citizens of the Philippines to this elite capture of political power. Of the five presidential candidates, Duterte campaigned on the agenda of an anti-imperial Manila, and was the only candidate that had no substantive political link to the national political elite. Further, Duterte was also the first Filipino to become a president straight after being a mayor of a city (Davao), and this is special about him.

It is possible to conclude that the vote for Duterte can be considered as a protest vote. In essence, it was essentially a vote against the way the post-EDSA governance favored the political and economic elite over the interests of ordinary Filipinos. Thus, the Duterte victory signals a historic shift in Philippine politics, towards a more inclusive democracy.

This, then brings us to the question of what exactly is the mandate of the Duterte presidency?

Professor Casiple stated that regarding this, most opinions revolve around his controversial solution to the law and order problem, particularly the drug abuse problem. Additionally, the more contextual and broader interpretation is the one that sees Duterte promising to deliver meaningful results, not only in terms of solving the country's crime problem but also in undertaking key social reforms with his campaign slogan of "Change is Coming."

President Duterte at two years

Having maintained his popularity at over 80 percent, President Duterte has also been successful in creating the perception that he is achieving his campaign promises of "change." In the economic sphere, he has embarked on a "build, build, build" infrastructure-building program, which is envisioned as a foundation for developing industries outside the Metro Manila area. This program addresses various investment constraints such as the telecommunications bottleneck, bureaucratic red tape, internal conflicts, environmental concerns, tax burdens, and constitutional obstacles.

He has also aimed to enable the political environment, which includes developing and organizing grassroots support base; minimizing the national elite opposition to the "Change" agenda; strengthening and broadening links with international friends; solving the internal conflicts; and shifting to a federal system of government.

However, challenges remain. A modus vivende has not been reached with the political opposition. The peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines have been suspended and the latter has joined the political opposition. There is also the internecine feud within the increasingly unwieldy coalition behind Duterte. Lastly, the Duterte camp is wary of the political opposition's link to the U.S. elite and their harping on issues of human rights violation.


The main political reform envisioned is the shift to a federal system that will strengthen the governance at the regional and local levels and ensure that these have a voice in national policy-making. It also targets weakening the stranglehold of the national political elite on power and, by strengthening the political party system, encouraging the shift to program-based politics away from personalistic traditional politics.

Mid-term elections and implications

Consolidation of Duterte's hold on power, as there are still continuing challenges.

The holding of the 2019 national and local elections presents a major opportunity for consolidation of political power for the Duterte camp. Aside from its commitment to the ruling PDP-Laban party, it is undertaking an independent initiative to build its own political base through the Hugpong sa Pagbabago (Unity for Change) political party headed by Davao mayor Sarah Duterte.

There is also the move to cleanse various government departments and agencies of left-over from the Aquino administration. This includes the judiciary and constitutional commissions.

Possible plebiscite and transition to federal system - There may be a plebiscite to vote on a new constitution to coincide or run parallel to the national and local elections. This will officially start the shift to a federal system. How far the shift will go may depend on the compromises or accommodations of the ruling elite.

Duterte's change strategy - Professor Casiple believes that Duterte is not an ideological person, but he certainly has an idea on what he wants to achieve. His conclusion is that Duterte has a straight logical strategy. He brought the anti-drug campaign at the center of his strategy. He also brought in the questions of internal conflicts.

Finally, the major political question which is not yet consciously being addressed is that regarding the possibility of a post Duterte scenario. As of now, there is no political group that can easily replace Duterte and maintain national unity. In such a situation, a post-Duterte situation may lead to a weakened democratic order, heightened political divide, or political fragmentation. Thus, if Duterte is to be removed, there will be numerous challenges and attempts to seize power, and this according to Professor Casiple is what one could refer to as the "positive side" of Duterte, i.e, he carries with him a critical mass of support.

The second presentation of this session was by Dr. Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation. His presentation was titled Abe's Diplomacy in Asian Regional Power Balance and Domestic Politics.

Dr. Watanabe began his presentation with a brief introduction of Prime Minister Abe's current position in Japan, and then went on to analyze two key policies that Abe has been a strong proponent off, i.e, Abe's strategy of "proactive contribution to peace", and the strategy of the "free and open Indo-Pacific". He concluded with an assessment of Japan's domestic political situation.

In Dr. Watanabe's opinion, Prime Minister Abe is a currently a strong leader, and post Abe there might be an uncertainty with regards to having a strong leader (Japanese history has generally shown that after a strong leader, the next prime minister is almost always a weak leader).

Thus, while many view Abe as a "hawkish" leader, Dr. Watanbe argued that he is neither, and that Abe is actually "practical and a realist". This can further be illustrated by the fact that Abe carried forth many of the policies from the Noda administration that were initiated during the time that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was in power from 2009 to 2012. Some of these policies include the continuation of the TPP negotiations which has its roots in the Noda administration, as well as the policy of proactive contribution to peace whose prototype was shaped by former Japanese Prime Minister Noda.

Abe's Strategy: "Proactive Contribution to Peace".

Addressing Abe's strategy of ‘proactive contribution to peace', Dr. Watanabe stated that this has been brought forth such that it enables Japan to carry some of burden for the international community in its aim to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. In doing so, this policy inwardly focuses on the new Trump administration, outwardly on the rise of china, and the central focus is South East Asia or ASEAN.

In order to implement this policy, two things needed to be achieved –

The first was to establish a mechanism for maintaining this policy based on a cooperative framework that includes the U.S., Australia, India, and ASEAN member states. Here, Japan has tried to encourage the sustainable involvement of the U.S. in the region. Secondly, precautionary measures against the worst-case scenario of the U.S. withdrawing from the Asian region need to be carefully considered, and are being discussed in Japan.

Painting a picture of Chinese activity in the region. Dr. Watanabe pointed out that China is expanding its sphere of influence in the East and South China Seas with little respect for existing international rules. Further, with its One Belt and One Road (OBOR) initiative, among others, it is also attempting to expand its economic influence from surrounding Asian nations to other countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America. In doing so, China is also taking advantage of the America's growing isolationism to advance its own strategic initiatives.

Against this background, what would Abe administration's diplomatic approach be? With ASEAN, Dr. Watanabe believes that Abe wants to encourage closer relations, primarily because of the china factor. There is thus a sense of relief in Japan due to the fact that during the Obama Presidency, Duterte had threatened to end the U.S.-Philippines alliance. However, now relations between Trump and Duterte have improved drastically, and Japan – Philippines relations are more stable.

With Russia, though Russia continues to intervene in the affairs of countries in Ukraine and Syria, Dr. Watanabe holds the opinion that Abe continues to approach Russia and maintain Japan – Russia ties primarily due to this China factor. As China and Russia build a deeper relationship, Japan has to ensure that it is part of the equation, and not out of it.

The "Free and Open Indo-Pacific"

The "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" as stated in the U.S. National Security Strategy of December 2017, is understood as incorporating the ‘Security Diamond' concept previously put forward by Abe. In this context, Japan's provision of capacity building assistance for the nations of the Indo-Pacific region together with public goods under the banner of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" are critical issues in Japanese diplomacy, and are compatible with the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono, declared that the Japanese government will aim to achieve a strategic dialogue between the leaders of four nations: Japan, the U.S., Australia and India. It is also critically important to ensure a continued U.S. military presence in the region, while at the same time creating mechanisms for the regional cooperation that is required to support this concept of the Free and Open Indo-pacific.

Finally, Japan and China agreed to resume military officers exchange program between JSDF and PLA, which had been previously been suspended since Japanese government's purchase of the Senkaku's in 2012. Dr. Watanabe's concern regarding this was how will the JSDF manage this situation?

Japan-Philippines Relations

Japan actively engages with the Philippines, and Japan continues its support for the Philippines' counterterrorism measures such as Mindanao's peace process and economic development. Japan also encourages Capacity building in maritime security: transfer of the Maritime Self-Defense Forces (MSDF)'s TC-90 training aircraft is also an important step. From the Philippines part, it supports Japan's position on the problems on the Korean Peninsula and further looks to deepen this bilateral relationship of cooperation.

Domestic Politics in Japan

Finally, to put Japan's Domestic Political Context in perspective, Dr. Watanabe highlighted a number of key points. Though at the moment the ruling LDP is very stable due to split and weak opposition parties, Abe still has a few obstacles to deal with, especially if he is to leave an amended constitution as part of his legacy.

Abe has to win the LDP presidential election set to take place in September 2018, and if successful this could enable him to serve as Prime Minister till 2021. However, in order to do this Abe needs to secure the relationship with the LDP's coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, which is pro-China and reluctant to pursue the constitutional amendment. The LDP currently, is also scandal ridden, and this may further hinder his chances. Finally, Abe will also have to achieve the support of Secretary General of the LDP, Toshihiro Nikai, who also maintains a close relationship with China.

Key Discussion Highlights

The presentation was followed by discussion amongst the participants. One of the key issues brought forth during the discussion was that of the U.S. – Philippine relationship. According to professor Casiple, President Trumps approach to the Philippines has been quite traditional and as such it has been difficult to differentiate this approach from the mainstream U.S. foreign policy establishment. Further, he stated that Duterte does not have an anti-U.S. policy. Indeed, in order to ensure good Philippines – U.S. relations, the first thing that Duterte did after becoming President was to appoint a special envoy to the U.S., and that person was the business partner of Trump when he was still a business man.

Along these lines, he believes that Duterte wants to take a "non-aligned" position, that would enable him remain friends with everyone. So, while the U.S. is good for the Philippines, President Trump is better.

The other important issue discussed was regarding the concept of the Indo-Pacific, and what it means to South East Asia, particularly the Philippines?

According to Dr. Watanabe, the Duterte administration does not have any particular interest in the Indo-Pacific concept, as his policy leans more toward non-alignment. An example to demonstrate this is that, if the interests of the Philippines are being involved in the South China Sea, the preferred method to resolve the issue is through bilateral negotiations bilateral, since Duterte does not want to jeopardize relations with China.

Dr. Kikuchi further added to the discussion by stating that for South East Asian countries the main question is how to maintain relations with big power such as China, and how to maintain harmony between intra- ASEAN counties. This is quite critical.

Session 2: Security and Diplomatic Policy

Moderator: Mr. Masahiro Akiyama

Dr. Rommel C. Banlaoi, Security and Diplomatic Policy of Duterte Administration Towards the United States, China, Japan and the Indo-Pacific Region.

Framework of Analysis

Dr. Banlaoi started his talk with a comparison of the administration of former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and that of current President Duterte. While Aquino III pursued a policy of the strengthening the Philippines defense alliance with the U. S. and challenged China's assertive actions in the South China Sea through international legal arbitration, President Duterte on the other hand is pursuing a more pragmatic and independent security and diplomatic policy of dealing with the U.S. and China, as well as with Japan and the larger Indo-Pacific region.

Over the course of his presentation, Dr. Banlaoi reiterated that Duterte's paradigm shift of policy from the previous administration can be understood in the context of what scholars of International Relations call as the "diplomacies of small states". This concept can generally be used to explain the role of weak states in international relations, particularly with their relations with great powers. Within this framework, a small nation like the Philippines is set to pursue a more resilient approach to advance their national interests.

Thus, to give weak states the "autonomy" necessary to transcend great powers, two conditions are essential:

  • Weak states, given their vulnerability and helplessness are considered nonthreatening and geopolitically "irrelevant" to major balancing needs.
  • Given this vulnerability, weak state autonomy must be directed by the need to develop economically, to solve the problem of vulnerability.

Against this background, Dr. Banlaoi believes that President Duterte is motivated to pursue a more independent security and diplomatic policy for economic development purposes.

Articulation of Duterte's Security and Diplomatic Policy

The National Security Policy (NSP) 2017-2022 articulates Duterte's Security and Diplomatic Policy. A National Security Strategy (NSS) is currently being finalized to fully implement this policy. A National Defense Strategy has also been drafted, while the National Military Strategy 2014 is being reviewed to pursue the NSP of Duterte Administration.

Dr. Banlaoi went on to examine Philippines policies with regard to the U.S., China, Japan and states of the Indo-Pacific region.

Policy with the U. S. - The NSP states that as a formal defense ally, the Philippines will still seek to work closely with the U.S. on a number of significant security and economic issues, despite Duterte's earlier careless pronouncement of pursuing a policy of "separation" from the U.S. In fact, the Draft NSS recognizes that the U. S. remains to be the sole superpower with a pivotal role in maintaining global stability.

Under the Duterte Administration, the agenda of Philippines – U.S. security cooperation are counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR), and other non-traditional security issues, particularly drug trafficking. President Duterte has strict instructions to avoid territorial disputes in any joint military activities of the Philippines with the U.S.

Policy with China - The NSP recognizes that "the rise of China generates policy concerns not only among developed countries such as the U.S., Japan and Korea, but also among the ASEAN nations due to socio-cultural interactions, significant trade and investments, as well as territorial claims in the WPS." Nonetheless, the Philippines prioritizes the development of friendly ties with China as part of preventive diplomacy. The Philippines and China have resumed all their channels of communications in order to boost their bilateral ties comprehensively. Though the Philippines and China continue to have policy differences on the South China Sea, both countries have established the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea in order to peacefully address their differences on the issue.

Policy with Japan - The NSP recognizes that Japan has entered into a strengthened strategic partnership with the Philippines aimed at boosting political, security and defense ties and cooperation between the two countries. Philippines-Japan defense relations have tremendously improved with the signing of defense cooperation agreements, particularly on the exchange of defense technologies.

The Philippines and Japan are also currently discussing the possibility of having their own Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to justify increased visits of Japanese troops to the Philippines for purposes of leveling up their security cooperation, particularly in the area of HA/DR, counter-terrorism, and maritime domain awareness, among others.

Finally, Japan is providing the Philippines maritime security capability building assistance through the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) being funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Through the MSCIP, Japan is transferring to the Philippines ten brand new multi-role response vessels (MRRVs) to be used by the Philippine Coast Guard.

Policy with the Indo-Pacific Region - In its ties with the countries in the Indo-Pacific region, the NSP regards the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as the cornerstone of its regional policy. Upholding the centrality of ASEAN, the Philippines believes ASEAN provides the Philippines various opportunities to engage with great powers in the context of the East Asia Summit (EAS).

Mr. Hideshi Tokuchi, Making Security Policy in the Era of Eroding Alliance
- Agony for Japan in Coming Years –

In light of the changes being made by the Japanese government, Mr. Tokuchi's presentation focused on the regional security environment and the current shape of the Japan-US Alliance.

Regional Security Environment Surrounding Japan

Though dynamics in this region are beginning to change, albeit slowly, a number of key issues define the regional security environment surrounding Japan. North Korea's provocation with its nuclear and missile ambition continues to be a big problem in Japan's neighborhood, and internationally as well. Regarding this, Mr. Tokuchi believes that the North Korean issues must not be regarded as a short-term issue, as there is "no quick fix"; and North Korea's words without actions do not mean anything.

Further, China's maritime expansion and its increasingly assertive actions in the East and South China seas, and China's periodic incursions to Japan's waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands will continue to be serious challenges to the security of Japan. Causing further anxiety for other states is the fact that recently in the annual session of China's National People's Congress, the country's plan to boost its military spending by 8.1% in 2018 to further advance an ambitious modernization drive for its armed forces was disclosed. Moreover, President Xi Jinping is also now consolidating his dictatorial power, eliminating his political opponents and rivals, and centralizing the party and the military.

Finally, maritime expansionism is not the only issue. Piracy, terrorism, drug trafficking, IUU fishing and natural disasters – these non-traditional security threats, also require maritime security cooperation in this region. And in order for these to be successful, they will of course require cooperation from China.

The Japan-U.S. Alliance

The US-centered alliance network has been the bedrock institution of the security of the Asia-Pacific, and the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the central piece of the network. While the Japan-U.S. Alliance is in a good shape right now, Mr Tokuchi stressed that Japan cannot be complacent about it, and that there are still a number of issues to be considered when dealing with this alliance.

North Korea's attempt to develop ICBMs and SLBMs is causing doubt regarding the U.S. deterrence for the security of its allies. Further, the US is a source of instability, too. Although the U.S. public opinion is not as inward-looking as it was in the era of the previous administration, behaviors and language of the President Trump are undermining American soft power. Mr. Tokuchi stated that Trump's trade and economic policies will not increase the wealth of the American society, and it will actually work against the U.S. hard power in due course.

In such a situation, what happens to the state of the Japan-U.S. Alliance? The alliance is not unilateral, and thus it is not to be maintained by the U.S. alone. It always requires adjustment by constant efforts of U.S. partners. In this sense, today's situation is not new at all. Mr. Tokuchi believes that the alliance has just entered another era of adjustment. Though the adjustment will be more difficult than before, the entire structure of the alliance has not been shaken. The core basis of the alliance, i.e. the military partnership, has been firmly institutionalized over the preceding decades.

The Future of Japan's National Security Policy

In order to strengthen the U.S. – Japan alliance, Mr. Tokuchi suggested the following: a clearer division of labor particularly in the new strategic domains, deeper interoperability in operations, logistics, planning, doctrine and exercises, and better alliance coordination based on a whole-of-government approach – all these issues should be well taken care of. Equipment purchase between the two nations should be only a small part of it.

Further, the priority of Japan's national security and defense should be placed much more on Japan's contribution to the regional stability and architecture building. In this context, the unfolding concept of the "Indo-Pacific" is very important. Mr. Tokuchi stated that how Japan integrates this concept into the security and defense policy will be one of the major points to address in the renewal of the National Defense Program Guidelines for Japan.

While, the "Indo-Pacific" concept is a clear indication of the importance of strengthening the connecting power of the sea and also illustration of the fact that the sea is one, it will not be easy to integrate the concept in the security and defense strategy of Japan. Many important questions arise from this, and one such questions is: will Japan be able to afford to include Africa into its security scope?

Moreover, on the other hand, when India (a key partner of Japan) discusses the "Indo-Pacific", Mr. Tokuchi believes that India only discusses the Indian Ocean, and it believes it to be the center of gravity. From India, the Pacific is in the next concentric circle outside the Indian Ocean. This different world view will make the relevance of the concept smaller in Japan's security thinking. Incidentally as well, Japan's military forces have been pre-occupied with the affairs in Japan's neighborhood, making it difficult to address even the South China Sea issues, let alone the Indian Ocean. At best, Japan's military roles will be limited to security cooperation, including exercises and mutual exchanges with India.

Mr. Tokuchi concluded with two key points on maritime security and Japan's constitutional amendment. First, in order to better deal with China's expansionist behavior, maritime and air superiority, amphibious capability, and mobility of forces of Japan are most important. Further, capabilities of Japan's Coast Guard must be dramatically improved in order to cope with China's gray zone warfare. Closer cooperation and coordination of Japan Coast Guard and Maritime Defense Force is also important in this context. Finally, maritime security assistance and capacity building support to Southeast Asian littorals is also important in the same context.

Second, with regards to the constitutional amendment, Mr. Tokuchi believes that though it is easy to assume that the volatile security environment surrounding Japan may supply the extra boost for a constitutional amendment, domestic political dynamics are completely another matter. It is hard to predict where the amendment issue will be headed. It is premature to predict when it will be done and what will be achieved.

Dr. Tsutomu Kikuchi, ASEAN in Japan's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy"

Dr. Kikuchi began his talk by outlining the two aspects that his presentation would focus on –

What is Japan's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy?"

In August 2016, in Nairobi, Kenya, and the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Prime Minister Abe announced the concept of the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific". This concept is generally accepted or thought of as an extension of the speech that Abe had given in front of the Indian parliament in 2007, titled "the confluence of two seas". The concept is over-arching and comprehensive, aiming to connects two continents and two oceans, however, it is still a work in progress.

The goal, broadly speaking was to sustain and promote the rule based free and open regional order in the Indo-Pacific region. It would do so by upholding global rules and norms, such as the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas), as well as by offering alternative instruments to build infrastructure capacity.

The agenda focuses on strengthening connectivity – such as infrastructural projects, trade and investment, and establishing a high-standard economic architecture; protecting the maritime commons – freedom of navigation (FON) and rule of law; and also, supporting capacity building by encouraging the development of human resources, the business environment and institutional reforms.

Regarding the implementation of this concept, Dr. Kikuchi stated that there were a number of mechanisms:

1) Bilateral:

Japan and India initiatives generally underscores a focus on infrastructure and capacity building projects in East Africa; and the expansion of the Chabahar port in Iran.

Bilateral relations between the two nations also have a big focus on the "Japan-India Act East Forum", which aims to link India's "Act East Policy" and Japan's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy"; and the "Asia Africa Growth Corridor" (AAGC). While the former aims to enhance connectivity, and promote development projects in India's Northeast region (the seven sisters) linking it with Southeast Asia, the later project aims to promote economic exchanges between Asia and Africa.

On the other hand, Japan – U.S. initiatives delve into offering high-quality US-Japan infrastructure alternatives in the Indo-Pacific. This overseas private investment cooperation is supported by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI). Further, there is also an agreement of energy infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific between both states.

2) Trilateral

This mechanism generally focuses on three main interactions, i.e, those between the U.S., Japan and India; Japan, Australia and the U.S.; Japan, India and Australia.

3) The Quadrilateral security dialogue ("Quad")

While the idea of the Quad was first brought forth in 2008, it collapsed shortly afterward. However, this concert of democracies, Japan- U.S.- India – Australia re-emerged in November 2017 on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) summit, and has been gaining momentum. It has begun to deal with a much more comprehensive agenda, beyond just a maritime dimension. It has also begun to addresses joint connectivity and infrastructure building programs.

4) Regional mechanisms

The last mechanism is regional, i.e., it focuses on bodies/ organizations dealing with regional cooperation such as ASEAN, SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA, EAS etc. Dr. Kikuchi stated that in this concept, the role of India is very important.

Further giving a boost to this concept, was the latest development in November 2017. As Japan and the U.S. continued to discuss the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" concept, then U.S. secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, at a speech made at CSIS for the first time referred to the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" where he also highlighted the importance of India's role. President Trump also gave a speech at the APEC sumit in 2017, where again he spoke about the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific".

How is ASEAN located in Japan's Broader strategy?

Japan looks to further enhance engagement with ASEAN countries. ASEAN is a very important part of Japans Indo-Pacific strategy. It is after all located at the center of this region, and it carries with it significant strategic importance as ASEAN is the link between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Dr. Kikuchi stated that ASEAN can have substantial impacts on the future regional order of the Indo-Pacific, particularly if ASEAN through its principle of ASEAN Centrality acts collectively. Further, Japan's collective endeavors with relevant parties (such as ASEAN) could also contribute to keeping the U.S. engaged with Asia, thus working as a stabilizing force of the regional order.

However, ASEAN is currently struggling to respond to two challenges:

  • Intra-ASEAN: constructing the outward-oriented ASEAN community, i.e., ASEAN is currently facing the difficult task of balancing national and regional interests among the members, and this affects institutional unity.
  • Extra-ASEAN: As the competition between major powers plays out in South East Asia, ASEAN has to find a way to manage relations with these major powers through ASEAN-related regional institutions.
Japan Moving Southward

Japan's vision for the Indo-pacific moves is moving south ward, with the current government actively engaging ASEAN, India and Australia. Japan's agenda here is multi-pronged. It focuses on trade, where it touches upon deeper integration issues such as the TPP (or TPP plus 11), RCEP investments, which is its "second wave" of FDI to ASEAN. Japan is also competitively pursuing high quality infrastructure building.

In the security domain, Japan is focused on maritime capacity building, joint exercises with regional navies and also the 2+2 dialogues it has with India and Australia. In doing so Japan is a strong proponent of abiding by global rules and norms.

Finally, Dr. Kikuchi stated that as the future of the region would not be defined by either China or the U.S. or China-U.S. relations. At the moment, South East Asian nations hold the perspective that they are "sandwiched by the big powers", and tend to view the future of the Indo-Pacific region from the perspective of the U.S. – China competition playing out. Thus, Dr. Kikuchi believes that ASEAN states have to free themselves from this "old-fashioned" mindset.

Key Discussion Highlights

Though this session did not have time for a full-fledged discussion, there was a short debate on the exact definition of the Indo-Pacific region. Mr. Tokuchi stated that the definition of the Indo-Pacific is different for different countries: for example, for India, he believes that it means the Indian Ocean Region only, and not the broader region that includes the Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, Dr. Kikuchi who disagreed, argued that it was a broader over-arching concept, and because of recent recognition by President Trump and Rex Tillerson, it is gaining even more momentum. Finally, Dr. Banlaoi, addressed the evolution of the definition of the Indo-Pacific, tracing it academic and geographic origins.

Session 3: Internal Affairs

Moderator: Mr. Nobuyuki Hiraizumi

Dr. Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, Duterte's ‘War on Drugs': Gains, Challenges and Prospects

Dr. Quimpo started his presentation by stating that the ‘War on drugs' has been the most controversial undertaking of the Philippines' "irrepressible and mercurial" President Rodrigo Duterte. The result of which has been a death toll that has currently exceeded 12,000 people, while tens of thousands more have been packed in overpopulated prisons.

Despite a strong outcry by Human rights groups (domestic and international), Catholic Church officials and Western governments, high satisfaction ratings continue both for ‘war on drugs' and for Duterte's performance. A survey by the SWS (Social Weather Stations) in the third quarter of 2017 showed the net satisfaction ratings at 77 percent satisfied, and in the fourth quarter of 2017 the net satisfaction rating was at 71 percent.

Delving into his presentation, Dr. Quimpo posed the following important questions:

  • Why has Duterte embarked on the ‘war on drugs'?
  • Are illegal drugs as much of a threat to Philippine society and to national security as touted to be?
  • How successful has Duterte been in achieving his objectives in fight against drugs?
  • What are the prospects of this ‘war' in the coming years?

Dr. Quimpo highlighted that the key argument is that Populist Duterte has shrewdly picked on an issue of broad popular concern—drug trafficking—and securitized it. In doing so, he hyperbolized the drug menace in order to justify deadly ‘war on drugs.' He further used this ‘War on drugs' as a key instrument for burnishing his ‘tough on crime' and ‘man of action' persona, and broadening his popular appeal. But most importantly for turning the national police machinery into his power base and into a quasi-private army, bringing back national boss rule, and for pursuing a national development strategy anchored on a perverse view of law and order.

Prospects: While Duterte currently still basks in broad popular support, the prospects of the ‘war on drugs', of boss rule, and his developmental ambitions are most uncertain.

The Securitization of Illegal Drugs

Illegal drugs in the Philippines is a social problem broadly perceived to have not been satisfactorily addressed by past administrations. However, Dr. Quimpo reiterated that Duterte has blown it way out of proportion. According to Duterte, there are 3.7 million drug addicts, and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) says that there are 1.8 million drug users. Contrary to this, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) state that the drug use rate in the Philippines is 1.69 percent, which is way below overall global rate of 5.2 percent.

Philippines trade in illegal drugs — amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, solvents, ecstasy, etc. — is a Peso 55.5-billion industry. However, the Philippines is a long way from "narcostatization". Further, it is not a major drug producer or hub; and though drug lords have made some inroads in a number of local governments, drug traffickers are still nowhere close to mustering wherewithal for capturing state power.

Why has Duterte securitized illegal drugs?

Dr. Quimpo stated that much of this is to do with Duterte's populism. In order to gain a bigger hold on power, the self-image cast by Duterte is that he is a man of action: tough on crime, real-life version of ‘Dirty Harry,' ‘The Punisher' and ‘The Terminator.' By focusing on drugs, Duterte projects himself as an action man in busting crime and broadens his popular appeal.

Duterte's Boss Rule and Development Strategy

Bossism – a common political phenomenon in Philippines, where warlords and powerful political clans use coercion and violence to establish and maintain power in areas under their control or influence.

During the Marcos dictatorship, there was 13 years of national boss rule after declaring martial law. Duterte established and consolidated boss rule in Davao City with himself as leader par excellence. Now, Duterte has brought back national boss rule within a few months after assuming presidency and without having to resort to martial law.

Dr. Quimpo stated that Duterte's objective in establishing boss rule in Davao City, however bizarre, was to transform it into a peaceful, orderly, and prosperous city. Claimed results by him include the per capita crime rate – reduced to nation's lowest in 1999-2005, and Davao City was also called the ‘most peaceful city in East and Southeast Asia.'

Davao City indeed thrived: Investors, traders, tourists—local and foreign all flocked in. Plaudits for being among country's or Asia's most livable, most competitive, cleanest and greenest, most child-friendly, even as having country's best police force. According to Dr. Quimpo, Duterte ran city government like well-oiled machine. To business people, the Duterte administrations was reasonably efficient and less prone to petty corruption.

Police vigilantism

‘War on drugs' – involves more significant amount of police vigilantism. Many suspects killed by on-duty police officers in purportedly ‘legitimate encounters.' While before, police vigilantism was a local phenomenon, presently Duterte has nationalized it and changed its dynamics. Relatedly, police impunity on the ‘war on drugs' is on the rise, and the number of innocent civilians killed is also rising.

Development ambitions

Duterte's national boss rule has developmental ambitions:

  • The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022: ‘lay solid foundation for inclusive growth, high-trust society, and globally-competitive knowledge economy.'
  • Stress on reducing poverty and inequality through expanded opportunities in agriculture, increased presence in global market, quality and accessible basic education for all, and universal social protection.
  • Target: Make Philippines upper-middle income country by 2022, high-income country by 2040.

Surveys by both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and SWS show a decrease in volumes of crimes under Duterte. PNP showed that Index crimes – dropped by 21.8% (from January-November 2016 to January-November 2017), and the SWS nationwide survey showed that the average rate of families who fell victim to common crimes declined to a record-low 6.1 percent in 2017.

Thus far, the Duterte government has managed to sustain the country's high GDP, one of the highest in Asia. In 2017, the economy advanced 6.7 percent, slower than a 6.9 percent in 2016. However, for 2018, the economy is projected to grow between 7-8 percent.

Whether Duterte will succeed in making economic growth more inclusive also remains to be seen. Despite decades of poverty-reduction efforts under a succession of administrations, country's poverty incidence has never gone below 20 percent. In 2015, statistics of Philippines poor stood at 21.6 percent of the total population.


With very high satisfaction/approval ratings, populist Duterte could very well continue with deadly ‘war on drugs' and national boss rule until the end of his term and possibly even beyond. National boss rule could take even more authoritarian turn—dictatorship or electoral authoritarianism. Martial law has already been imposed in Mindanao since May 2017 following attack on Marawi City by jihadist forces affiliated with Islamic State. Duterte has also threatened to expand martial law nationwide if ‘enemies of the state', such as CPP-NPA, intensify their attacks.

Opposition, however, is growing. It is also very possible that Duterte does not finish his term. Further, unlike before, international human rights groups have beamed much more attention on Duterte and have been working closely with domestic groups and have been relentless in their denunciations. There is a possibility that Duterte is charged and ordered arrested by International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. (ICC has recently announced that there will be a preliminary examination on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in the context of police anti-drug operations.) Other contingencies could also becloud Duterte's future, such as a major economic crisis; grand corruption scandal; deterioration of his health condition; sharp rise in terrorism or insurgency, etc.

Finally, Duterte needs to ensure that after June 2022, he will not be arrested and prosecuted for human rights violations, crimes against humanity, or other crimes. This means that either he stays on, or he makes sure that his successor is of the same mold and backs him.

Dr. Takashi Sekiyama, Impact of Japan's Depopulation on the Economy and Society

Dr. Sekiyama began his presentation by highlighting the current demographic issues surrounding Japan

  • Japan is estimated to be short of 5.6 million workers. In order to tackle this issue, Dr. Sekiyama noted that it is pertinent for the elderly and women to enter the workforce. However, this in itself is not sufficient due to the fact that there will still remain a shortage of workers.
  • To successfully tackle the issue, Japan has to increase foreign labour from 0.7 million to 3 million by 2030. Japan needs approximately 3 million foreign labour.
  • This may lead Japan to compete with neighboring Asian countries for foreign labour. Other Asian countries like China, Taiwan and South Korea are also facing depopulation. This situation may lead Japan to compete with them or other countries such as the Philippines.
Key trends

Birthrate: Ever since 1975 the birthrate has remained below 2.0. and reached an all-time low of 1.26 in 2005. Though it has improved slightly, and is now at 1.45, this is not adequate.

Population: In 1945, Japan's population was 75 million, and during the 1950s and 1960s it increased dramatically. The population market its peak in 2008, and in 2015, the population stood at 127 million. However, the main issue is that studies predict this figure to decrease to 111 million, declining further to 100 million by 2050.

Working-age population (15 – 64 years): the working age population was 87.3 in 1995, declining to 77.3 in 2015 and it is estimated to reduce further to 59.8 by 2040. Additionally, Japan's working age population is expected to decrease at a faster pace because its society has been aging.

These trends tend to have a direct impact on Japan's economic and social structure. For example, at present, there are 896 cities in Japan, due to de-population a number of them are expected to disappear by 2040. This will affect not only local cities, but major cities including Tokyo are also set to face the risk of economic decline due to de-population. Thus, it is evident that it is becomingly increasingly difficult to sustain Japan's current economic stature.

What can Japan do?

With these trends and statistics in mind, Dr. Sekiyama believes the only answer is for Japan to accept more foreign labour. In total Japan is short of approximately 5.6 million labour, and it will need to deal with this if economy is to accomplish its goal of 2 percent annual growth.

In assessing this, Dr. Sekiyama proposed the following:

There is a requirement of a total of 5.6 million workers

  • 3.1 million workers needed in medical care/ nursing care
  • 1.4 million in agriculture
  • 0.5 million in transport and logistics.

Thus, Japan should engage with three types of labour -

  • The Elderly – they have not been a major labour source in the past, and can help alleviate this labour deficiency.
  • Women - Currently in Japan 62 percent of women have jobs. This no is lower than that in Europe, and is almost equal to that of the U.S. and higher than the OECD average. There is not such a huge room to increase the labour space for women, for example, even if 5 percent more women work in Japan, it will equate to an increase of 1.7 million workers by 2030. While, this is still not enough to compensate the required 5.6 million workers, when combined with the elderly, this still could help alleviate the growing labour shortage.
  • Foreign workers – The current no of foreign labour is on 700,000. This needs to increase, as increasing the number of foreign workers gives Japan the best chance to reach this total of the required 5.6 million workers.

Finally, while there are many negative opinions against immigrants coming in to Japan. It is important for the government to work to change this view and ease the entry of foreign labour into the country.

Key Discussion Highlights

During the discussion, Dr. Itoh put forth a few comments related to the issue of Japan's large labour shortage. He stated that there is a severe restriction partially imposed due to the governments definition of "professionals". If this was to change, it may enable more labour to come in easily to Japan. Further, while it is true that female labour participation is increasing, it is important to note that the majority are part time workers. Finally, another important feature of Japan regarding its labour shortage is that some industries have a shortage, while other have an excess of labour. Thus, if Japan were to restructure or reshuffle jobs to areas that are in need of labour, it could alleviate the situation.

On this issue, Dr. Sekiyama further noted that the number of foreign labour in japan excludes the students working in Japan. Currently, international students account for 0.3/0.4 million people in Japan. So even if this is number is included to the total number of foreign labour, it highlights that still more is needed. Additionally, Dr. Sekiyama stated that Japan can do many things to alter the situation, but Japan's visa control and regulation is very strict, making the situation more complicated.

Philippines also relies on foreign workers to bring in about 29 million U.S. dollars, which is about 30 percent of GDP. Thus, is Japans worker shortage attractive? And what is the future policy of Filipinos to its workers outside?

Dr. Quimpo stated that while there are many Filipinos coming to Japan, there are also the Vietnamese and Nepalese too. While the largest numbers of asylum seekers in Japan were Filipinos, only 20 were granted asylum in Japan last year. Further, the higher end care givers of Filipinos prefer to go to the U.S., or Europe, especially because of the language issue. Additionally, Dr. Clemete noted that while, in the past the Philippine government has encouraged labour to go out, however there has now been a change because of the rise of BPOs. Duterte has been encouraging workers to return to the Philippines.

On the issue of tackling the drug issue, a discussion ensued focusing on China-Philippines cooperation on this issue. Dr. Banlaoi stated that there is strong cooperation between China and the Philippines. China is open to sharing information with the Philippines, and is also now providing information to the Philippines on organized crimes. It further provides technologies for drug detection. Yet china is still the number one source of drugs followed by Taiwan.

Session 4: Economy

Moderator: Mr. Nobuyuki Hiraizumi

Dr. Tina S. Clemente, Philippine Economic and Development Policy of the Duterte Administration.

Dr. Clemente's talk started with a focus on presenting the general framework of the Philippines plan for development, and how it fits into a long-term vision. She then went on to show the challenges that influence efforts to produce development outcomes.

Dr. Clemente stated that the Philippines generally always has a mid-term plan of about 5 years, and at the beginning of Duterte's presidency, there was confusion because there were so many frameworks being circulated. That said, when one studies the Philippine development plan 2017-2022, Ms. Clemente highlighted that it becomes clear that Duterte's administration is trying to contrast itself from the previous ones.

She pointed out a few examples to demonstrate this. For example, compared to previous administrations in the current plan, inequality is hardly mentioned. Duterte also promised to address the land reform plan which started not a long time ago, and it did not have very robust results. In itself, conceptually the plan is revolutionary, but Dr. Clemente cautioned that the Philippines is well-known for coming out with very ambitious plans. Philippines always touts itself as the next "Asian Tiger", but somehow it always misses the economic waves of development in Asia.

Duterte's administration in coming up with this plan, first launched a survey, known as the "Survey of Aspirations", which has been the first of its kind. The survey brought forth four key issues –

  • Vision for Self – in this survey three key questions were asked – if participants wanted a rich life, prosperous or affluent life or simple and comfortable life? Only 3.9 percent of the participants selected rich, 16.9 percent selected a prosperous or affluent life, with a huge majority of 79.2 percent choosing a simple and comfortable life.
  • Vision for Country – In this survey - nobody is poor, or hungry; and jobs are adequate – were the main findings. Thus, results showed that that poverty is a huge issue, and needs to be tackled seriously.
  • Eliminating Corruption – in the Philippines, corruption has reached pernicious levels. South East Asia has a lot of corruption, but the Philippines is special because it appears that there is no concept of insulating critical areas from corruption, and this has gotten worse in the previous years. Thus, in terms of good governance, Filipino's believe in eliminating corruption as important to achieving a better future.
  • Peace and Security – In order to achieve national and personal prosperity, Filipinos believe that peace and security are important.
Persistent Challenges

1) Poverty and inequality: Using a graph to demonstrate this trend, Dr. Clemente highlighted the fact that compared to its South East Asian neighbors, Thailand and Malaysia - which showed a reduction of poverty; and Indonesia and Vietnam – which showed a drastic reduction in poverty; the Philippines graph remained relatively flat, indicating that poverty levels had barely changed.

At this point, Dr. Clemente stated that Philippines government is always keen to show an improvement in GDP figures rather than actual reform on the ground. So, while there are plans that exist, the capacity of local governments to attempt to make the change is insufficient.

Some key issues she highlighted were –

  • Poverty reduction was not responsive to economic growth in recent years.
  • High regional variation of poverty, but predominantly rural though urban poverty is increasing.
  • Low educational attainment is a determinant.
  • Weak population control i.e., poor families have six or more members.
  • Issues in governance and institutions; weak local government units.
  • Poverty programs have issue targeting key issues.

2) Structural Transformation: Here there are both horizontal and vertical constraints. In order to Illustrate this, Dr. Clemente focused her case study on the Industrial Policy and Inclusive Growth, and brought forth the following:

Horizontal constraints: Governance and Regulation – corruption, bureaucracy/red tape; Infrastructure & Logistics – High cost and unpredictability of power, and high cost of domestic shipping; Human Resource Development – Lack of skilled workers and adequate training; SME Development – Access to finance, technology upgrade etc.

Dr. Clemente believes that it is in these areas that the Philippines has always lagged in making its own in roads.

Vertical constraints: Supply/value chain gaps – the absence of raw materials, and weak parts and components sector, in industries such as furniture, paper, copper, automotive etc.

Domestic market expansion as base for exports - there is a need for economies of scale in industries such as auto, motorcycle and ship building.

3) Institutional Issues: While these plans are okay on the conceptual level, the big challenge is that the Duterte promised that change is coming, and in order to keep that promise, institutional problems would need to be tackled, as these are very persisting. In terms on institutions Philippines is lagging behind.

Dr. Clemente concluded by highlighting some of the most problematic factors for doing business, as stated in an Opinion Survey conducted by the World Economic Forum – Inefficient government bureaucracy; Inadequate supply of infrastructure; Corruption; Tax regulations; Access to financing etc.

Dr. Motoshige Itoh, Japan's Economy and its External Policies

Dr. Itoh's presentation focused on explaining trends in Japan's economic policies, and he used data from a number of graphs to illustrate some of these changes.

When ordinary people talk about "Abenomics" in Japan, the criticism generally focuses on two points. Firstly, the inability to have reached an inflation rate of two percent. Secondly, that the potential growth rate of japan is very low, despite a huge focus of "Abenomics" on this issue.

Key trends

According to Dr. Itoh, when one studies the ratio of current profit to sales, it can be seen that Japanese corporations are now earning their largest profits in history.

Another trend that stands out prominently is that of the unemployment rate and job-offer, job-seeker ratio. According to Dr. Itoh, the demand supply has been increasing in Japan, and although the labour supply has been increasing as well in the last five years, there is still a huge surplus demand for labour. As a result of this, the wages of part-time workers are increasing quickly, and subsequently the wage of ordinary workers is not increasing as much.

How can we encourage the government to mobilize the money? While Dr. Itoh stated that it would be no easy feat for the government to order an increase in wages, he believes that it is possible to rely on the market for this. In Japan, the big problem is that on one had some industries have labour shortage, while other sectors have an over-abundance of workers. This trend, generally leaves organizations a bit unwilling to change business models, and this needs to be addressed.

According to Dr. Itoh one of the most important issues is that of Japan's household sector. Japan's household sector has a low propensity to saving.

Finally, in conclusion a big concern raised by Dr. Itoh, was regarding the yen-dollar exchange rate. Strong macro-economic policy affected yen dollar exchange rate. The present situation in Japan is not very sustainable.

Mr. Keiya Iida, Japan's Trade Policy for the Asia-Pacific Region.

Mr. Iida started his presentation by highlighting the fact that Japan has aimed to be a good international player with regard to trade, and has been promoting trade liberalization since the end of the second world war. In doing so, Japan has also tried to extend tax reformation to all partners of the World Trade Organization (WTO) without discrimination.

With regard to South East Asia, how is Japan's economy doing?

Around 2000, Japan's policy changed, and it started its Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Singapore. The reason for starting with Singapore is that since Singapore does not produce agricultural products, it was easier to engage and negotiate with. Next were Malaysia and Thailand in 2004, followed by Indonesia in 2005. With the Philippines, Japan started their negotiations in 2006. Between these South East Asian nations, if one compares the trade liberalization rate, the highest was provided by Japan to the Philippines.

Until 2010 this Japan was negotiating these EPAs. However, post this, Japan started to work towards concluding a general review exercise with those countries. As this happens, Japan is now seeking to ask if they should put more focus on bilateral trade relations, or wider regional agreements/Mega Free Trade Agreements, such as TPP or RCEP.

Why is Japan seeking Mega FTAs?

There are currently five mega FTAs in the making – TPP, Japan-EU EPA, RCEP, Japan-China-ROK FTA, and TTIP.

1) To some extent it reflects economic reality, which we are seeing across the globe. The problem with bilateral FTAs is that, one can reduce tariffs for those products in Japan, and in partner countries, but this only extends to those two countries which produce the products and enter into the agreement.

However, the reality of the Asia Pacific Region in particular, Japan has heavily invested in ASEAN, in China, and starting to invest in India. Japan is also producing many parts and components, both at home and in these partner countries, and this becomes part of what we call now as the global supply chain. For example, if Japan produces cars in ASEAN, it could be exported to Australia and New Zealand. And in the future hopefully lower cost automobiles may be produced in India, and then exported to other countries as well. So, in these cases, certainly there are short comings in bilateral arrangements, which Japan is pursuing under the old policy framework.

2) Japan needs to seek more high level rules. Not only with regard to market access, but also in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). Japan should also promote free flow of information, especially those that will promote e-commerce and not hinder it. Japan is also heavily invested in Research & Development. Japan does not want to see the flow of pirated or products lacking copyright or counterfeit products flowing across borders. Mr. Iida believes that these mega FTAs will help meet these standards, and that is why Japan is continuing to push for them.

3) Another reason that Japan is pursuing Mega FTAs is related to the dysfunction of the WTO. Japan had been pushing for multilateral trade liberalization during the Doha round negotiations, seeking higher standard in many areas. However, the WTO with its large number of members, became difficult to forge a consensus and the trade negotiations reach an impasse.

Thus, Japan started to engage and talk to other partners such as the US, which at that point was also negotiating the TTIP with the EU. These like-minded countries should seek to set higher standard rules, and this will set the standard for the future. It is against this background that Japan is pushing Japan – EU EPA, and the TPP, with the hope that the US will do the same.

And despite the US with-drawing from the TPP, Japan in recognizing the importance of the TPP, continued to push for the TPP plus 11. Japan – EU EPA was also concluded, with the hope of signing it this summer. Japan is also hoping to set high standards with RCEP. Mr. Iida stated that though he believed it will be difficult to set the same standards in RCEP as those of the TPP, but nonetheless Japan is keen to try.

In conclusion, Japan attaches high priority to other economic development, such as infrastructural development. Japan has tried to focus a lot on infrastructural development projects, which also facilities trade investment.

In the case of the Philippines and Japan partnership, in January 2017, Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan would provide one trillion yen in assistance over the next five years, including ODA and private-sector investment. Abe emphasized the importance of the following specific areas – Infrastructure development and enhanced connectivity; peace and development in Mindanao; Security and terrorism countermeasures; and measures for countering illegal drugs.

Key highlights of Discussion

What is going on in terms of RCEP negotiations? Mr. Iida stated that since becoming President, Trump has been encouraging bilateral FTAs. Against this background, Japan is strongly urging the U.S. that bilateral FTAs have their limitations. Thus, despite U.S. insistence that bilateral FTAs are good for their interests, Japan's strategy is to continue to work to conclude RCEP, and also make TPP plus 11 a success. Australia and New Zealand will enjoy greater market access, maybe this will attract U.S. However, how Trump will deal with this is completely unpredictable.

Another important question that come up during the discussion, was what would happen if hypothetically the US was to comes back to the TPP plus 11? Dr. Itoh added that it is theoretically possible to separate the TPP and TPP plus 11, and if U.S. agrees to rejoin the TPP, there is a possibility to move back to the original proposed plan. To this, Mr. Iida concluded that if the U.S. comes back, it would come back to TPP 12, and not TPP 11. If one studies TPP plus 11 agreement, there is a clause that addresses that if U.S. comes back then they have to review TPP plus 11.

Finally, regarding China's much debated OBOR plan Dr. Clemente posed an important question. Although OBOR is not a FTA, there are strong trade implications in the OBOR plan. Thus, is it possible that it is an initiative by China that is meant to skirt a mega FTA?

Dr. Kikuchi stated that with regard to OBOR, everyone is still uncertain as to what exactly is China's plan beyond the obvious proposed infrastructural development. However, reports show that China wants to resolve trade disputes mechanisms with those countries that have joined OBOR, and that China certainly wants to construct a regional framework with its own rules.

Further, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Japan is still uncertain as to what would be the economic benefits of the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific", unlike the way China is with its OBOR plan. And currently, MOFA is discussing how to close this gap and address this issue.

(This report has been prepared by Ms. Vindu Mai Chotani, Ph.D. Student, Graduate School of Public Policy, Tokyo University, Tokyo; Visiting Associate, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.)

Annex 1: Program

  • Session I. Politics (13:00-14:00)
  • Session II. Security and Diplomatic Policy (14:00-15:00)
  • Session III. Internal Affairs (15:00-16:00)
  • Session IV. Economy (16:00-17:00)

Annex 2: List of Participants

Prof. Ramon Casiple (20 min)
Executive Director, Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER)
Philippine Political Outlook during the Mid-Term of Duterte Administration and Projection of the 2019 Philippine Mid-term Elections

Dr. Tsuneo Watanabe (15 min)
Senior Research Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation
Japan's politics and Abe's Diplomacy

Dr. Rommel Banlaoi (20min)
Chairman, Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research
Professorial Lecturer, Department of International Studies, Miram College
Philippine Foreign and Security Policy of Duterte Administration, particularly towards US, China, Japan, ASEAN and Indo-Pacific

Mr. Hideshi Tokuchi (10min)
Senior Fellow, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)
Security situation in Northeast Asia and Japan's Security Policy

Dr. Tsutomu Kikuchi (10min)
Professor, International Relations at the Department of International Politics, Aoyama-Gakuin University
Japan's diplomacy for Asia

Dr. Nathan Quimpo (20min)
Associate Professor, Doctoral Program in International Public Policy, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba
Challenges and achievements of Duterte's War on Drugs

Dr. Takashi Sekiyama (15min)
Professor, Toyo University
The agenda to be tackled in Japan with an aging society

Dr. Tina S. Clemente (20 min)
Associate Professor, Asian Center, University of the Philippines
Philippine Economic and Development Policy of Duterte Administration

Dr. Motoshige Itoh (10 min)
Professor, Gakushuin University
Japan's Economy and its External Policies

Mr. Keiya Iida (10min)
Deputy Director-General, Economic Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan' trade policy for the Asia Pacific region

Mr. Nobuyuki Hiraizumi,
President, Kajima Institute of International Peace

Ms. Vindu Mai Chotani
Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo; Visiting Associate, The Observer Research Foundation, India.

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