Honorable Akira Amari, Former Secretary General, Liberal Democratic Party of Japan
Speech at The Hudson Institute
Universal Values and “Principles” of the International Community
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began in February of last year has altered the global landscape. This is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force, as well as an act that shakes the very foundations of the international order. It goes without saying that we must respect universal values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights. We must also not allow a unilateral change of the status quo by force for any reason. Some argue that Ukraine is also at fault, but accepting such a notion would give legitimacy to any act of changing the status quo by force. Fundamental principles must be shared among all global actors. An international order based on the rule of law is the “principle” of the international community, and this principle must be upheld.
With Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan, stronger military collaboration between China and Russia, and the repeated launch of ballistic missiles by North Korea, the security environment that surrounds us is rapidly becoming more severe. It is precisely because we are in such an era that going forward, Japan’s diplomacy must be based on “principles.”
Russia and Ukraine
Based on this understanding, Japan has been supporting Ukraine and implementing strong sanctions against Russia. Japan has made a fundamental shift in its policy toward Russia and is actively reaching out to ASEAN member states and other so-called “neutral countries.”
It is essential that the international community continue to unite to implement strong sanctions against Russia and support Ukraine. Japan, which assumes the G7 presidency this year, will lead the international community in cooperation with the United States. Prime Minister Kishida made the political decision to visit Ukraine and met with President Zelensky on March 21. He conveyed Japan’s unwavering solidarity with the people of Ukraine. I, too, am committed to supporting this policy as a Diet member.
The aforementioned “principles” must be observed in Asia, as well. What’s happening to Ukraine today may happen to East Asia tomorrow. In the East China Sea and the South China Sea, China is continuing its attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force. China’s pressure on Taiwan is also ongoing and escalating.
The Government of Japan is of the position that “constructive and stable Japan-China relations” ought to be built by both countries. But I believe that we must first make China understand that if they do not observe “principles,” we will use our utmost strength to stop them.
Foreign Minister Hayashi visited China on April 1 and 2. He met with Minister Qin Gang and Director Wang Yi, and paid a courtesy call on Premier Li Qiang. I understand that during these meetings, Minister Hayashi clearly addressed the various issues of concern between Japan and China.
Japan is seriously concerned about North Korea’s increased nuclear and missile activities, which are occurring with unprecedented frequency through a wide range of methods. This includes ballistic missile launches such as ICBMs. North Korea’s ICBMs, whose range could reach the United States, are a matter of U.S. national security. Further provocations, including nuclear tests, are also a possibility. Japan and the United States need to work with one another, as well as trilaterally with South Korea, to respond to this problem.
As a side note, Prime Minister Kishida asked me to reassure those of you in the United States that the leaders of both Japan and South Korea are taking risks and trying to improve bilateral relations.
Free and Open Indo-Pacific
Viewed in this light, China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” appears to be an effort to create a new international order under its own leadership. In other words, China may be aiming to achieve a “Pax China” rather than a “Pax Sinica.” This order, however, is neither free nor open.
The late Prime Minister Abe, on the other hand, proposed the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) concept. He believed that the stability and prosperity of the region could be ensured by engaging as many countries as possible in maintaining and strengthening an international order based on the rule of law. This is a “Pax Democratica,” so to speak: a free and open international order. It seems to me that when Prime Minister Abe proposed the FOIP concept, he may have even foreseen the challenges we now face due to authoritarian states.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the Chinese narrative can influence the so-called “Global South.” We need to actively engage the Global South and incorporate their voice in our plans. That is how we would be able to build and propose alternatives that are more attractive than China’s.
In that sense, the “New Plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” that Prime Minister Kishida announced during his visit to India (March 19 to 21) deserves attention. Under this plan, $75 billion will be provided to the Indo-Pacific region by 2030 in both public and private funds. Cooperation for FOIP will be strengthened through four pillars: 1) principles for peace and rules for prosperity, 2) addressing challenges in an Indo-Pacific way, 3) multi-layered connectivity, and 4) extending efforts for security and safe use of the “sea” to the “air.”
In response to the security needs of like-minded countries, Japan also decided to introduce a new cooperation framework called the “Official Security Assistance (OSA).” Armed forces and other entities would receive support in developing military ports, for example, which had previously been restricted. Four countries will be the first beneficiaries, including the Philippines.
Economic Policy Toward China
Various security challenges have recently emerged, including supply chain vulnerabilities revealed by COVID-19, as well as risks posed by advanced technologies such as AI and quantum computing. Other challenges, such as food and energy crises caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and economic coercion that takes advantage of economic dependence, have also come to the fore. Allies and like-minded countries need to strengthen their efforts in economic security as well. The Japan-U.S. Economic Policy Consultative Committee (EPCC, or Economic “2+2”) is an effective framework to do so.
We cannot disregard China when discussing such efforts. The U.S. National Security Strategy calls China “the only competitor,” but we cannot win that competition without having economic relations with the country. The Chinese market is so large that we are unable to completely cut it off. For this reason, I believe we need to focus on the following policies for the time being.
We also need to discuss the most important way to win the economic competition with China. This is my strategic advice as a friend of the United States, and although it may be painful to hear, I hope it will be taken seriously. The United States needs to return to the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership]. Japan has been taking a leadership role in maintaining and strengthening the TPP as a standard-bearer for free trade. However, the center of economic integration in the region should be the United States. For the same reason, Japan does consider the IPEF [Indo-Pacific Economic Framework] to be important. But the best, fastest, and strongest way to truly make the supply chains of the United States and like-minded countries resilient is for the U.S. to return to the TPP, a framework that includes improved market access. China is increasingly pressuring member countries in its attempt to join the TPP. A U.S. return would be immeasurably significant as a proactive economic strategy to counter China. With the UK’s bid to join the TPP reaching substantial agreement in late April, I strongly hope that discussions on a U.S. return will also proceed.
U.S.-Japan Relations and the G7 Hiroshima Summit
As the world faces various crises, it is vital that we ensure peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community by strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, as well as cooperation with the G7 and other like-minded countries.
High-level diplomacy is underway between Japan and the U.S., including Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to the United States this past January. Various issues in common are being discussed, such as strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Japan also formulated a new National Security Strategy at the end of last year. This aims to significantly enhance defense capabilities within five years by increasing the defense budget to 2 percent of the GDP, and further strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
In addition, Japan holds the G7 presidency this year, and the United States holds the APEC presidency. Based on the strong cooperation between our two countries, we should leverage the G7 and APEC to demonstrate to the world our shared “principles”: the strong will to uphold the international order based on the rule of law. At the G7 Summit, we will also take the lead in addressing global economic issues such as energy and food security, as well as global challenges that include climate change, health, and development. Through G7 countries’ active contribution to these issues and calls for cooperation, we also strengthen our engagement with the Global South.
In a time of great political and historical change, Japan and the United States should work together and share our “principles,” so that countries in the Asia-Pacific region can continue on the path of peace and prosperity together.
One Final Point: Semiconductor Strategy
I would like to add one final point about our strategy for semiconductors. Our digital transformation allows us to transition to a data-driven economy, marking the advent of a data-driven society. Semiconductors are responsible for collecting, analyzing, processing, and implementing data into society. Without semiconductors, not only would automated driving be impossible, but quantum computers, AI, and data centers would not function, either.
The performance of our semiconductors will make all the difference in our economic power and military power—in other words, our national power. On the other hand, because semiconductors will be used in every corner of society, their reliability will impact all aspects of security. The most important policy would be to establish supply chains of reliable semiconductors, as well as reliable supply chains of the most advanced semiconductors.
Japan will once again take up the challenge of building supply chains of state-of-the-art semiconductors. In the past, this was a collaboration among domestic companies—a collaboration of the weak. This time, this will be a global collaboration among Japan, the U.S., Europe, and other countries, which is a collaboration of the strong.
China, Russia, and North Korea are the powder kegs of the 21st century, and the stability of East Asia depends on how much the U.S. builds its presence and legitimacy in the region. I am certain that this can be achieved by leveraging the strong ties between Japan and the United States.
This is a translation from Japanese to English of Honorable Amari’s draft speech.