Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

2023 is the year for Triangle Cooperation among Japan, India, and Indonesia
CHINO Keiko  / Journalist

December 27, 2022
In the latter half of 2022, Southeast Asia became the main stage of international events such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Cambodia, the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Indonesia, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Thailand. This trend is expected to continue in 2023 as the stage is further expanded to the Indo-Pacific region. The G7 Summit will be held in Hiroshima, the G20 Summit in India, and a series of ASEAN-related meetings, including the EAS, in Indonesia.

The triangle of Japan, India, and Indonesia has been relatively unknown to many. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how their cooperation and competition will affect the international order in the Indo-Pacific region.

India is expected to become the world's most populous country by 2023 and the third in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2027, surpassing Japan and Germany and becoming the standard-bearer for the “Global South”. Indonesia, in addition to being a powerhouse in terms of manpower and natural resources, has gained confidence due to its successful first chairmanship of the G20 summit and may be rekindling the aspiration to restore its position as “ASEAN’s leader” which Indonesia itself and others have almost forgotten.

Japan would like to seize this opportunity to contribute actively to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region while further strengthening its relations with India and Indonesia, both of which have ample room for growth. With Indonesia chairing ASEAN, this is a unique opportunity since the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Indonesia coincides with the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

No other country than Japan has had such a long-lasting relationship with ASEAN, which began in April 1973 when the Sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) warned Japan in a joint statement that "Japan's reckless increase in synthetic rubber production and export promotion poses a serious threat to the economies of ASEAN countries”.

Japan promptly held the Japan-ASEAN meeting on this issue in November of the same year. The two sides continued to hold discussions, and at the fourth meeting in November 1976, they reached an agreement, which included Japan's provision of technical cooperation and grants. The core of the ASEAN-Japan relations thus lay in the determination to turn confrontation into cooperation rather than conflict, a course that has been pursued for half a century. Today, as the world is becoming increasingly divided and confrontational, this is a history worth remembering.

The biggest challenge facing Japan and ASEAN today is how to come to terms with China as it tends increasingly to exert its might. China remains an attractive market for ASEAN, and the luring power of the One Belt, One Road initiative has not yet disappeared. While frankly acknowledging these factors, it is important for Japan to stress the advantages and strengths that it has and China does not have, take action, and thereby deepen the relationship of trust with ASEAN.

In a public opinion poll of ASEAN countries conducted in January 2022, in response to the question "which countries and institutions will be important partners in the future" at the G20, Japan secured the second place behind China, but came down 8% from the previous survey (2019) to 43%. While Japan's reputation for friendship, its record as a peace-loving nation, and its role in global economic development and stability remain as high as ever, this decrease in points should be taken as a sign that ASEAN is less than satisfied with Japan. The ideal ASEAN-Japan relationship is one of "Grow Together, Grow Stronger", analogous to the theme of the G20 summit in Bali.

On the other hand, India, which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Japan in 2022, has been at a disadvantage because that anniversary always overlaps with the anniversary of the establishment of Japan-China diplomatic relations by a 20-year gap. India’s non-aligned neutrality left its mark. However, Japan-India relations are changing quietly and surely. The change in the name of the region from Asia Pacific to Indo-Pacific is a dramatic symbol of this change. India is now an integral actor in the region as part of the Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue involving Japan, the United States, India, and Australia.

The Indo-Pacific triangle is all set to move in 2023.

Keiko Chino (Freelance journalist, Sankei Shimbun, guest editorial writer)
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

千野 境子 / ジャーナリスト

2022年 12月 27日







2022年1月に実施されたASEAN諸国の対日世論調査は、G20で「今後重要となるパートナーとなる国・機関は」との質問に、日本は中国に次ぐ2位は確保したものの、前回(2019年)より8%減の43%だった。友好や平和国家としての歩み、世界経済の発展や安定に果たす役割等の評価が相変わらず高い半面、このポイント減はASEANの日本への物足りなさの表れと受け止めるべきであろう。バリ島でのG20 サミットをもじれば、「共に成長し、共に強くなる」日ASEANが理想だ。



一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > 2023 is the year for Triangle Cooperation among Japan, India, and Indonesia