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The traditional independence and balance of North Korea

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Years ago, while talking with Kim Il-Sung about Mediterranean issues, he told me about an episode concerning a country geographically very close to Italy, namely Albania.

During the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (October 17-31, 1961) – which marked the split between Russia and Albania – the delegation led personally by my friend did not accept Russia’s call to stigmatise the Albanian Communists at all, and not a word of condemnation was addressed to Albania.

Five years later, a delegation from the Korean Labour Party attended – with full honours – the work of the 5th Congress of the Labour Party of Albania (the third in order of importance after the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Vietnamese Workers’ Party).

The remaining Socialist countries that survived (and did not survive) the three-year period 1989-1991 suffered from major political crises (Madagascar); dissent and economic depression (Cuba, the former USSR); nationalism and irredentism (the countries of former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Republics, etc.); compromises with the armed opposition (Angola, Mozambique); radical reforms (the former USSR, Mongolia) or structural reforms (Vietnam, Laos), without forgetting the Cambodian civil war (1975-79); and wars between Socialist countries (Ethiopia and Somalia in 1977, Vietnam and China in 1979).

The only regime that survived unscathed the fatal moments of transition of international Communism was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), apart from the States which, to a greater or lesser extent, adjusted their economic structure – namely the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, etc.

One of the two basic reasons for North Korean resistance is the Juche ideology, lucidly analysed by Antonio Rossiello in an Italian newspaper in 2009.

The vulgate of perfect Marxism-Leninism in the Asian context has never been convincing. Only in the few serious studies which have been conducted so far in Italy on the people’s democracies in the Far East, including Rossiello’s, we can fully understand how the Asian traditions leave only formal room to the effects of the French Revolution.

While, in the West, Maoism somehow differentiated itself from the palingenetic myth of Stalinist Marxism-Leninism, Kim Il-Sung’s thought has never been fully explored because of the ostracism of Italian-style Communism and its priestlings, gallants, lackeys and pseudo-intellectuals.

Undoubtedly, the international position taken by the DPRK over the recent seventy years is the additional cause underlying the country’s internal and external stability.

In practice, for a large part of Asian peoples, the Second World War was a liberation war. In the short and long term, the Japanese message “Asia to the Asians” – aimed at developing the imperial design of Europe’s expulsion from Asia – led to a weakening of the old and new colonialist structures: in this regard, the Chinese revenge (1934-1949) and the Vietnamese redemption (1945-1975) are emblematic.

In the Juche ideology, the word freedom has no liberal-bourgeois, free-market capitalist meaning at all, but it merely means: “homeland without foreign presence on national soil”.

The DPRK (proclaimed on September 8, 1948, while April 25 is the Army Day) was ahead of its time, thus definitively anticipating the mainstays of its balancing policy, suggested and prompted by its contiguity with the two major Communist powers.

On December 25, 1948, Stalin’s Red Army and the Soviet administrative apparata withdrew from the DPRK at the request of Kim Il-Sung.

During the civil war (1950-1953) the DPRK enjoyed decisive Chinese help and support, although not tying itself to China afterwards. Nevertheless, that did not mean an entry into the Soviet or Chinese orbit: in the aftermath of war devastation, the DPRK refused to join Comecon (despite considerable pressure), making its stance public and defending it in clear and principled terms against any form of international socialist division of labour.

It was against that background that the Juche or self-sufficiency idea took shape: “economic independence is also a guarantee to eliminate all kinds of yokes”, in view of sparing the country a destiny as an economic, and hence political, province of one or other of its great neighbours.

When new States gained independence in the 1950s and 1960s, and various African, Asian, Caribbean and Latin American countries appeared on the world scene, the DPRK tried to develop its relations, which were limited to Socialist countries (but not with Tito’s pro-U.S. Yugoslavia).

Hence North Korea’s policy towards the Third World was oriented to diplomatic, economic and ideological goals, initially to gain support and later to improve its standing within the United Nations (of which it was not yet a member).

According to Kim Il-Sung, the Third World could protect North Korea’s interest by striving to gain favourable statements and indispensable votes on issues concerning the peaceful unification of the homeland, as well as facilitate the attempt to enter the Non-Aligned Movement.

Furthermore, the support for liberation movements and for some insurgent groups was seen as a means of creating new State entities that would erode the U.S. power, i.e. militarily oppose the White House in view of its final withdrawal from its zones of influence.

In 1957, the DPRK launched its first trade agreements with Egypt, Burma, India and Indonesia. In 1958 it recognised the Algerian provisional government and later signed cultural agreements with Afro-Asian States and Cuba.

General development aid went to the newly independent countries, which appreciated it very much as it was considered to be unconditional. Demonstrations of solidarity in the case of natural disasters by sending money to the victims were fundamental: in 1958 for the hurricane in Ceylon (Sri Lanka); in 1960 for the earthquake in Morocco; in 1961 for the typhoon in Indonesia and the flood in Somalia.

In the 1960s, the DPRK’s international prestige also increased due to its high level of development and autonomy, with control over resources, nature and the reasons for progress in a former colonial country with only a few decades of independence behind it.

The doubts about the Soviet policy towards the countries on its side in any kind of confrontation with the United States (see the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba), as well as the contrasts between the People’s Republic of China and the USSR in coordinating aid to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam),increasingly convinced Kim Il-Sung to take separate paths.

In this regard, it was one of the countries that provided a major contribution, not only verbally, to North Vietnam and the Viet Cong National Liberation Front (NLF). Its offer to send volunteers, however,  was not accepted by the Vietnamese, despite the presence of South Koreans in South Vietnam. In so doing, the Vietnamese confirmed the aforementioned Asian sense of freedom, i.e. no foreigners.

Finally, Russia’s and China’s concerns over the capture of the American ship, Pueblo, by the North Korean forces (1969) showed Kim Il-Sung that the Soviets and Chinese were much more careful to protect their interests than those of the small “brother” countries.

In the 1970s, with increasing moderation and self-restraint in foreign policy – in view of reassuring the world public of his desire for peaceful unification -in his alliance with the Third World, Kim Il-Sung also accentuated the achievement of the cause of democracy between States, as well as national independence and social progress. Nevertheless, a common past of humiliation and insults, as well as struggles against colonialism and imperialism, was still alive in North Korea’s international activities.

The DPRK was the first country to offer volunteers to Cambodia after the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk (1970), and it also helped and funded numerous Afro-Asian and Latin American liberation movements.

In 1972, however, the North Korean government – except for military assistance to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front– stopped active support to the movements (maintaining political solidarity with them) in favour of a systematic campaign to obtain widespread diplomatic recognition. In fact, it preferred to assist already established realities, namely Egypt, Malta, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda, Lesotho, etc.

The results were not long in coming: in 1973 it was granted observer status at the United Nations, as it was already a member of the World Health Organization. In August 1975, the Lima Conference of the Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries accepted the DPRK’s candidacy (while South Korea’s was rejected).

The efforts made directly at the United Nations achieved a great symbolic success, as for the first time a document recognizing North Korea’s position won a majority. That year, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 3390 B (XXX) of November 18 by 54 votes to 43, with 42 abstentions and 4 absentees, calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops present in South Korea under the UN flag and the opening of negotiations between the United States and the DPRK (the South Korean government was ignored).

Between 1975 and 1979, the DPRK kept on concluding new economic, scientific, transport and cultural agreements with emerging countries, leading up to the 6th Labour Party Congress –that opened on October 10, 1980 – which, faced with new international problems, clarified the traditional policy line without misunderstandings or compromise formulas.

North Korea denounced Vietnam’s intervention in Cambodia (1978) but distanced itself from the Khmer Rouges, and did not invite Cambodian delegations to the Congress. Only a message from Sihanouk, who lived in the capital, was accepted.

When asked, some leaders made it clear that they had never approved of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, but that they did not want to take an official stance because it was “of no use”. During the Congress, they confined themselves to denouncing the “dominationistic” tendencies (the word “hegemonistic” was avoided because it was used by the Chinese against the Soviets).

Great importance was given by Kim Il-Sung in his report to the Non-Aligned Movement. The President rejected the Cuban theory whereby the Movement would be the natural ally of the Socialist camp, stating that “the aligned countries should absolutely not follow one or the other bloc, nor let themselves be influenced or allow divisions within them”.

Those statements were accompanied by an attitude of openness towards the parties of the Socialist International. Considering the many and large European socialist delegations invited, it was clear that the DPRK wished to attend the Socialist International meetings as an observer.

Although some Socialist parties (the German SPD) were more hostile than others to the nature of the regime, they remained sensitive to the will always expressed in those years and shown in the position taken during the first Gulf War (1980-1988). North Korea supported Iran – the victim of the attempted Iraqi invasion – by providing the attacked country with weapons and advanced technology at a time when Saddam Hussein had the United States, Russia and China on his side. The DPRK, Syria, Libya and Albania were the only countries to support Iran, which had the world against it.

In 1991, the two Koreas were admitted separately to the United Nations: the consensus was expressed at the opening of the 46th Ordinary Session of the General Assembly (September 17). That came about because the DPRK had decided on May 28 to permanently relinquish the principle of single confederal representation, following South Korean successes in gaining assurances from China and the Soviet Union that they would withdraw their vetoes on its candidacy.

A historic event took place at the end of 1991. The two Korean Prime Ministers, Yon Hyong Muk (for North Korea) and Chung Won Shik (for South Korea), signed a treaty of non-aggression and conciliation in Seoul on December 13, formally putting an end to the state of war that had existed since the Armistice (July 27, 1953).

The agreement re-established communications, trade and economic exchanges, and allowed for the reunification of families separated in the aftermath of the conflict (June 25, 1950). It also established the presence of a joint garrison in Panmunjon, along the demilitarised zone. That was the first step towards the unification of the peninsula, which was desired by both governments, albeit in different terms.

The positive outcome was first of all due to North Korea’s decision (expressed just twenty-four hours before the signing of the agreement) to relinquish the idea of negotiating only with the White House, as the counterpart of the Armistice. It was clear that the United States did not want to give in to North Korean diplomatic attempts to consider the Republic of Korea as one of its dependencies.

Over and above easy enthusiasms, distrust and mutual suspicions persist. The very permanence of U.S. forces (under the UN flag) – feared by North Korea – was reconfirmed by the then Secretary of Defence, Dick Chaney, in November 1991.

There are currently 28,500 U.S. military in South Korea. It is the third largest contingent of U.S. soldiers abroad – a figure that does not coincide with the typically Asian sense of freedom: Japan (53,732); Germany (33,959); South Korea (28,500); Italy (12,249); the United Kingdom (9,287); Bahrain (4,004); Spain (3,169); Kuwait (2,169); Turkey (1,685); Belgium (1,147); Australia (1,085); Norway (733), etc.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Shared Territorial Concern, Opposition to US Intervention Prompt Russia’s Support to China on Taiwan Question

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image credit: kremlin.ru

The situation around the island of Taiwan is raising concerns not only in Chinese mainland, Taiwan island or in the US, but also in the whole world. Nobody would like to see a large-scale military clash between China and the US in the East Pacific. Potential repercussions of such a clash, even if it does not escalate to the nuclear level, might be catastrophic for the global economy and strategic stability, not to mention huge losses in blood and treasure for both sides in this conflict.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Moscow continued to firmly support Beijing’s position on Taiwan as an integral part of China. Moreover, he also underlined that Moscow would support Beijing in its legitimate efforts to reunite the breakaway province with the rest of the country. A number of foreign media outlets paid particular attention not to what Lavrov actually said, but omitted his other remarks: the Russian official did not add that Moscow expects reunification to be peaceful and gradual in a way that is similar to China’s repossession of Hong Kong. Many observers of the new Taiwan Straits crisis unfolding concluded that Lavrov’s statement was a clear signal to all parties of the crisis: Russia would likely back even Beijing’s military takeover of the island.

Of course, diplomacy is an art of ambiguity. Lavrov clearly did not call for a military solution to the Taiwan problem. Still, his remarks were more blunt and more supportive of Beijing than the standard Russia’s rhetoric on the issue. Why? One possible explanation is that the Russian official simply wanted to sound nice to China as Russia’s major strategic partner. As they say, “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” Another explanation is that Lavrov recalled the Russian experience with Chechnya some time ago, when Moscow had to fight two bloody wars to suppress secessionism in the North Caucasus. Territorial integrity means a lot for the Russian leadership. This is something that is worth spilling blood for.

However, one can also imagine that in Russia they simply do not believe that if things go really bad for Taiwan island, the US would dare to come to its rescue and that in the end of the day Taipei would have to yield to Beijing without a single shot fired. Therefore, the risks of a large-scale military conflict in the East Pacific are perceived as relatively low, no matter what apocalyptic scenarios various military experts might come up with.

Indeed, over last 10 or 15 years the US has developed a pretty nasty habit of inciting its friends and partners to take risky and even reckless decisions and of letting these friends and partners down, when the latter had to foot the bill for these decisions. In 2008, the Bush administration explicitly or implicitly encouraged Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili to launch a military operation against South Ossetia including killing some Russian peacekeepers stationed there. But when Russia interfered to stop and to roll back the Georgian offensive, unfortunate Saakashvili was de-facto abandoned by Washington.

During the Ukrainian conflicts of 2013-14, the Obama administration enthusiastically supported the overthrow of the legitimate president in Kiev. However, it later preferred to delegate the management of the crisis to Berlin and to Paris, abstaining from taking part in the Normandy process and from signing the Minsk Agreements. In 2019, President Donald Trump promised his full support to Juan Guaidó, Head of the National Assembly in Venezuela, in his crusade against President Nicolas when the government of Maduro demonstrated its spectacular resilience. Juan Guaido very soon almost completely disappeared from Washington’s political radar screens.

Earlier this year the Biden administration stated its firm commitment to shouldering President Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan in his resistance to Taliban advancements. But when push came to shove, the US easily abandoned its local allies, evacuated its military personal in a rush and left President Ghani to seek political asylum in the United Arab Emirates.

Again and again, Washington gives reasons to conclude that its partners, clients and even allies can no longer consider it as a credible security provider. Would the US make an exception for the Taiwan island? Of course, one can argue that the Taiwan island is more important for the US than Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ukraine and Georgia taken together. But the price for supporting the Taiwan island could also be much higher for the US than the price it would have paid in many other crisis situations. The chances of the US losing to China over Taiwan island, even if Washington mobilizes all of its available military power against Beijing, are also very high. Still, we do not see such a mobilization taking place now. It appears that the Biden administration is not ready for a real showdown with Beijing over the Taiwan question.

If the US does not put its whole weight behind the Taiwan island, the latter will have to seek some kind of accommodation with the mainland on terms abandoning its pipe-dreams of self-determination and independence. This is clear to politicians not only in East Asia, but all over the place, including Moscow. Therefore, Sergey Lavrov has reasons to firmly align himself with the Chinese position. The assumption in the Kremlin is that Uncle Sam will not dare to challenge militarily the Middle Kingdom. Not this time.

From our partner RIAC

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Russia-Japan Relations: Were Abe’s Efforts In Vain?

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Expanding the modest elements of trust in the Japan-Russia relationship, talking through reciprocal concerns before they lead to conflict, avoiding bilateral incidents, and engaging in mutually beneficial economic cooperation is the way forward.

One year after the end of Shinzo Abe’s long period of leadership, Japan has a new prime minister once again. The greatest foreign policy challenge the new Japanese government led by Fumio Kishida is facing is the intensifying confrontation between its large neighbor China and its main ally America. In addition to moves to energize the Quad group to which Japan belongs alongside Australia, India, and the United States, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has concluded a deal with Canberra and London to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines which in future could patrol the Western Pacific close to Chinese shores. The geopolitical fault lines in the Indo-Pacific region are fast turning into frontlines.

In this context, does anything remain of the eight-year-long effort by former prime minister Abe to improve relations with Russia on the basis of greater economic engagement tailored to Moscow’s needs? Russia’s relations with China continue to develop, including in the military domain; Russia’s constitutional amendments passed last year prohibit the handover of Russian territory, which doesn’t bode well for the long-running territorial dispute with Japan over the South Kuril Islands; and Russian officials and state-run media have been remembering and condemning the Japanese military’s conduct during World War II, something they chose to play down in the past. True, Moscow has invited Tokyo to participate in economic projects on the South Kuril Islands, but on Russian terms and without an exclusive status.

To many, the answer to the above question is clear, and it is negative. Yet that attitude amounts to de facto resignation, a questionable approach. Despite the oft-cited but erroneous Cold War analogy, the present Sino-American confrontation has created two poles in the global system, but not—at least, not yet—two blocs. Again, despite the popular and equally incorrect interpretation, Moscow is not Beijing’s follower or vassal. As a power that is particularly sensitive about its own sovereignty, Russia seeks to maintain an equilibrium—which is not the same as equidistance—between its prime partner and its main adversary. Tokyo would do well to understand that and take it into account as it structures its foreign relations.

The territorial dispute with Russia is considered to be very important for the Japanese people, but it is more symbolic than substantive. In practical terms, the biggest achievement of the Abe era in Japan-Russia relations was the founding of a format for high-level security and foreign policy consultations between the two countries. With security issues topping the agenda in the Indo-Pacific, maintaining the channel for private direct exchanges with a neighboring great power that the “2+2” formula offers is of high value. Such a format is a trademark of Abe’s foreign policy which, while being loyal to Japan’s American ally, prided itself on pursuing Japanese national interests rather than solely relying on others to take them into account.

Kishida, who for five years served as Abe’s foreign minister, will now have a chance to put his own stamp on the country’s foreign policy. Yet it makes sense for him to build on the accomplishments of his predecessor, such as using the unique consultation mechanism mentioned above to address geopolitical and security issues in the Indo-Pacific region, from North Korea to Afghanistan. Even under Abe, Japan’s economic engagement with Russia was by no means charity. The Russian leadership’s recent initiatives to shift more resources to eastern Siberia offer new opportunities to Japanese companies, just like Russia’s early plans for energy transition in response to climate change, and the ongoing development projects in the Arctic. In September 2021, the annual Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok did not feature top-level Japanese participation, but that should be an exception, not the rule.

Japan will remain a trusted ally of the United States for the foreseeable future. It is also safe to predict that at least in the medium term, and possibly longer, the Russo-Chinese partnership will continue to grow. That is no reason for Moscow and Tokyo to regard each other as adversaries, however. Moreover, since an armed conflict between America and China would spell a global calamity and have a high chance of turning nuclear, other major powers, including Russia and Japan, have a vital interest in preventing such a collision. Expanding the still very modest elements of trust in the Japan-Russia relationship, talking through reciprocal concerns before they lead to conflict, avoiding bilateral incidents, and engaging in mutually beneficial economic cooperation is the way forward. The absence of a peace treaty between the two countries more than seventy-five years after the end of the war is abnormal, yet that same unfinished business should serve as a stimulus to persevere. Giving up is an option, but not a good one.

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Kishida and Japan-Indonesia Security Relations: The Prospects

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image source: twitter @kishida230

In October, Japan had inaugurated Fumio Kishida as the new prime minister after winning the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election earlier. Surely this new statesmanship will consequently influence Tokyo’s trajectory in international and regional affairs, including Southeast Asia.

Not only that Japan has much intensive strategic cooperation with Southeast Asians for decades, but the region’s importance has also been increasing under Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). Southeast Asia, as a linchpin connecting the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, is key to Japan’s geostrategic interest and vision.

Since the LDP presidential election debate, many have identified Kishida’s policy trajectory, including in the defense and security aspect. Being bold, Kishida reflected its hawkish stance on China, North Korea, and its commitment to strengthening its alliance with Washington. Furthermore, Kishida also aimed to advance the geostrategic and security initiatives with like-minded countries, especially under FOIP.

One of the like-minded countries for Japan is Indonesia, which is key Japan’s key partner in Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific.

This article maps the prospect of Japan’s security cooperation with Indonesia under the new prime minister. It argues that Prime Minister Kishida will continue to grow Japan’s security cooperation with Indonesia to adjust to the changing security environment in Indo-Pacific.

Japan – Indonesia Common Ground

In its basic principle, Japan and Indonesia shared the same values in democracy, rules-based order, and freedom of navigation in developing strategic cooperation, especially in the maritime security aspect. 

In the geostrategic context, Japan and Indonesia also have significant similarities. Both countries are maritime countries and seeking to maximize their maritime power, as well as having formally synchronized geostrategic vision. While Japan has FOIP, Indonesia has Global Maritime Fulcrum (Poros Maritim Dunia) and leading initiator for ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

In capitalizing on this shared vision, since Shinzo Abe and Joko “Jokowi” Widodo era, Japan and Indonesia have initiated much new security cooperation ranging from a high-level framework such as 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting in 2015 and 2021 to capacity building assistances and joint exercises. Furthermore, defense equipment transfers and joint technology development were also kicked off under Abe-Jokowi.

Kishida’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Profile

Compared to his predecessor, Suga Yoshihide, Prime Minister Kishida is more familiar with foreign affairs.

Personally, Kishida comes from a political family and spent several years living in the United States, reflecting his exposure to the international and political environment from an early age. This is significantly different from Suga, who grew up in a strawberry farmer family in a rural area in Akita Prefecture.

Politically, served as foreign minister under Shinzo Abe, Fumio Kishida is the longest-serving foreign minister in Japan’s history. This reflects his extensive understanding of current world affairs, compared to Suga who spent most of his prime political career in the domestic area such as being chief cabinet secretary and minister for internal affairs & communication.

Specifically, in defense and security posture, Prime Minister Kishida is willing to go beyond the status quo and not blocking any key options in order “to protect citizens”. During his policy speeches, he stated that he is not ruling out the option to build attacking capabilities due to the severe security environment surrounding Japan. Also, Kishida will not limit the defense budget under 1% of Japan’s gross domestic product if necessary.

Future Security Cooperation Trajectory with Indonesia 

In short, policy continuity will play a huge role. One of the reasons why Kishida was able to win over more popular Kono was due to his moderate liberalness, demonstrating stability over change. This was more preferred by faction leaders in LDP.

In defense and foreign affairs, the continuity is boldly shown as despite appointing entirely new ministers in his cabinet, the only two ministers retained by Kishida are Foreign Minister Motegi and Defense Minister Kishi. By this, it sent the narrative to the international community that there will not be significant turbulence caused by the changing leadership on Japan’s side.

As a background context on Indonesia, Fumio Kishida was the foreign minister from the Japanese side behind the 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting with Indonesia in 2015. Indonesia is the only country Japan has such a high-level security framework within Southeast Asia. This framework has led Japan and Indonesia to have a second edition of the 2+2 meeting in 2021, resulting in many practical cooperation deals in defense and security.

The other setting supporting Kishida’s policy continuity, especially in the context with Indonesia is that his foreign minister’s counterpart, Retno Marsudi, was still in charge from the last time Kishida left the foreign minister post in 2017, until today. Initiating the 2+2 framework together, it will be easier for Kishida to resume his relationship with both President Jokowi and Foreign Minister Retno in advancing its strategic cooperation with Indonesia, especially in the defense and security area.

The prospect of continuity is also reflected in Kishida’s commitment to continue the geostrategy relay of both his predecessors, Shinzo Abe and Suga Yoshihide, in achieving the FOIP vision.

Not only that Indonesia is having a similar vision of maritime prosperity and values with Japan, but Indonesia is also concerned with South China Sea dynamics as it started to threaten Indonesia’s remote islands, especially Natuna Islands. As this is a crucial cooperation opportunity, Kishida needs to continue assisting Indonesia to improve the security and prosperity of its remote islands. Thus, as Kishida also admitted that Indonesia is a major country in ASEAN, having favorable relations with Indonesia is important for Japan’s geostrategy.

Challenges

To capitalize on the potentials with Indonesia, Kishida needs to support Indonesia’s strategic independence as well as to make the best of his position as one of the United States’ allies in Asia.

Despite his tougher stance on China and Taiwan issues, Kishida cannot fully project Japan’s rivalry with China to Indonesia. In addition to its strategic independence, Indonesia has and needs strong strategic relations with China to support many of the vital development projects surrounding Indonesia. This cannot be touched.

Also, Japan needs to bridge Indonesia, as well as other like-minded Southeast Asian countries, with the Quad and AUKUS proponents. Indonesia is formally stated that it is concerned about the ownership of nuclear-powered weapons by its neighboring countries. On the other side, Japan supported AUKUS and is a close ally of the U.S. Kishida’s ability to grab this opportunity will solidify Japan’s credibility and position among Southeast Asians.

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