BGF recalls how the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 2015 World Leader for Peace and Security Award, first spoke of the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific region at the 2016 Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
The term “Indo-Pacific” then began to rapidly spread internationally. In November 2017, in response to Abe’s speech, then-U.S. President Donald Trump announced his own free and open Indo-Pacific strategy in remarks to the APEC CEO Summit in Danang, Vietnam. This signified Washington’s embrace of the notion that a geopolitical narrative linking the Pacific and Indian Oceans as one region is in the national interest of the U.S.
The administration of President Joe Biden has kept with this framing. Other governments, including ASEAN, major European countries and Canada have also announced their own Indo-Pacific strategies.
Japan’s Global South vision can achieve similar geopolitical significance. But doing so requires us to weave a story that will interest the U.S. and the international community.
It is worth noting that some media observers see the “Indo-Pacific” term as a framing intended to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.