Security Challenges
Volume 16, No.1 (2020)

The Pacific Islands in Japan’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ From ‘Slow and Steady’ to Strategic Engagement

Japan’s past engagement of the Pacific Islands, primarily developmental and generally low-key, is viewed as having been “slow and steady”. However, as it has developed its ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ (FOIP) strategy, Japan has begun to dispense with this quiet approach and now adopts a more strategic set of policies towards the Pacific Islands. Japan’s shift in style and the implications of a more contested Indo Pacific region raise some important questions for Japan’s future engagement of the region, especially in terms of how the Pacific Islands fit within the FOIP vision. Indeed, as FOIP evolves, it is likely that the past approach will continue to be reworked as Japan’s Pacific Islands policies become more closely integrated into FOIP. Whether Japan has the capacity to deliver on ambitions for the Pacific Islands and the wider Indo-Pacific, however, remains open to question.

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