Noburu OKABE: US think tank praised the “Abe Initiative”

Jul 1, 2024Publications

US think tank praised the “Abe Initiative” The “US-Japan-Australia-India” and “US-Japan-Britain-India” – two quads for global peace and stability

Noburu OKABE


July marks the ‘third anniversary in Buddhism’ of the two-year anniversary of the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was killed by a bullet during a speech in support of the Upper House election.

In March, the US think tank Boston Global Forum (BGF) held an online international conference in memory of Prime Minister Abe at the Hotel Okura in Toranomon, Tokyo, to honor the contributions to world peace and security led by former Prime Minister Abe and to ensure that his legacy is carried on to build a more peaceful and just world. As despotic states China and Russia are deepening their military and economic cooperation after the invasion of Ukraine, it is important that like-minded countries in the liberal-democratic camp deepen multilateral cooperation under the ‘Abe Initiative’ in order to safeguard the international order based on the rule of law.

‘Four pillars of world peace and security’

After former Prime Minister Abe’s untimely death in 2022, the BGF continued his legacy by holding memorial symposia on ‘Japan’s Peace and Security in the World’ in the same year and ‘Making Japan’s Economy Great in the Age of Global Enlightenment’ in 2023, the third of which was entitled ‘Four Pillars of World Peace and Security (US, Japan, EU-UK and India)’ The BGF was established in 2011 by former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, a Democratic Party heavyweight and chairman who ran for US President in 1988, and Nguyen Anh Tuan, a Vietnamese CEO who ran a successful internet provider business in Vietnam, In 2015, it established the Leadership Award for Peace and Global Security and selected former Prime Minister Abe as the first recipient, along with former German Chancellor Merkel.

The turning point in the BGF’s assessment of former Prime Minister Abe, a stronghold of the liberal movement, came in May of the same year, when he became the first Japanese Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of the US Senate and House of Representatives. He emphasized Japan’s democracy, articulated a line of cooperation with the US, expressed condolences to US soldiers killed in action and called for a ‘cordial relationship’ between Japan and the US, which had become an ally rather than an enemy. When he advocated an “alliance of hope”, even “pro-China” Democratic Party officials frowned at China’s hegemonic aspirations and sympathized with the “alliance of hope.”

At the time, with China’s construction of artificial islands in the Nansha Islands and its expansion of military power in the Xisha Islands, tensions rose in the South and East China Sea, and respect for former Prime Minister Abe as a global leader increased.

‘Former Prime Minister Abe has played an important role in maintaining peace and security in the Pacific, particularly in the East and South China Seas, including the Senkaku Islands, and Japan has made a significant contribution to peace in Asia.’

When Tuan explained the current situation in Asia as a Vietnamese citizen, former Governor Dukakis’s assessment of former Prime Minister Abe changed and he graciously welcomed him as a partner with whom he should coexist in democracy and the US-Japan alliance.

The US has adopted the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ concept proposed by former Prime Minister Abe in 2016 as its main policy, as its foreign and security policy based on ‘active pacifism’ based on international cooperation principles has gained increasing recognition. It is highly unusual for a sovereign state to adopt the policies of another country. Since then, the concept has been adopted one after another by the UK, Germany, France and other European countries, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, and has become established in the international community as a common principle for democratic countries, and the concept has spread around the world.

When former Prime Minister Abe was killed by a deadly bullet in 22 years, the BGF established the Shinzo Abe Initiative for Peace and Security, saying that we must continue to uphold Abe’s vision for peace and security and contribute to his mission. It was a show of love, respect and condolence for former Prime Minister Abe.

Why would a US think tank organize a symposium in memory of former Prime Minister Abe’s achievements? Mr. Tuan explained.

‘To contain a rising China, democracies such as the US, Japan, India and Europe need to maintain their strength to counter it. Japan’s economic success and foreign policy are therefore crucial. It is essential to continue Abe’s legacy, promote a free and open Indo-Pacific policy and maintain and continue Abenomics.” Again, Professor Alex Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, “China is uncontrollably developing next-generation technologies such as AI and is aiming for world domination. In order to deter China from attempting to change the status quo, the liberaldemocratic camp, led by Japan, should unite”, Tuan said that “four pillars (the US, Japan, the EU-UK and India)” would be important for world peace and security.

The Other Quad

‘If the four pillars – the UK, the US, Japan and India – were reunited, it would have a huge impact on global peace and security.’

Professor Yuichi Hosoya of Keio University called for these four countries to show leadership in realizing a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’.

”Prime Minister Abe said the Indo-Pacific was the most important in the world and that Japan would play a major role there and show leadership to the world.”

Japan, which Professor Hosoya highly valued and advocated the concept of, of course, the UK, which left its influence in the region during the British Empire and launched a tilt towards the Indo-Pacific in the ‘Integrated Review’ of Foreign and Security Policy in 2021, the US, which continues to play the strongest and leading role in the world today in military, economic and other areas, and India, the world’s largest democracy, which is It was pointed out that strengthening the cooperation that the four countries have built with each other and acting shoulder to shoulder is essential for peace and stability.

It must be China that is in mind. It is increasing its hegemonic orientation and increasing its intimidation of Taiwan. It is also supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Even geographically distant Europe is becoming increasingly alarmed by the Chinese threat.

It is the UK that is most interested in the region. Former British Ambassador to Japan Paul Madden, who participated online from Singapore, where he was travelling on business, said that the UK’s interest in the region “is not anti-Chinese encirclement” but “out of economic interests and the resolution of security concerns” and that the UK “wants to lead a multilateral partnership that unites Japan and the liberal democratic camp”. He stated.

The UK, which voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, has returned to the region and is making moves: in 2021 it dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group with the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth as flagship to Japan and other countries. With the US and Australia, it has established a security framework, AUKUS, and will provide nuclear submarines to Australia. Japan will also be asked to cooperate in research into artificial intelligence (AI), quantum and other advanced technologies, with a view to joining in the future. In the revised 2023 ‘Integrated Review’, in which participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was decided, it declared that strengthening its involvement in the region would be a ‘permanent pillar of its policy’. Furthermore, even if the war in Ukraine and the Israeli-Gaza conflict breaks out, the British military will dispatch the aircraft carrier ‘Prince of Wales’ strike group to Japan and other countries in 2025 and conduct regular joint exercises with Japan and the US in the Indo-Pacific from the same year. Ties with Japan will be further strengthened. Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, noted that “there is a potential for Japan to join AUKUS in the future”.

The ‘Quad’ of Japan, the US, Australia and India is a framework for cooperation surrounding the South China Sea from the Pacific Ocean. If Japan, the US, Britain and India strengthen their unity, as advocated by Professor Hosoya, it may pave the way for ‘another Quad’ from the Pacific Ocean through the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. The ‘free and open IndoPacific’ concept of foreign and security policy is not limited to the Indo-Pacific region. It leads to a free and open world ocean and a freer and more open international order. If the ‘Double Quad’ framework, which combines two Quads on the basis of the ‘US-Japan alliance’, which is stronger than ever, and the special Anglo-Saxon relationship ‘US-UK alliance’, works, the cooperation of the liberal democratic camp for world peace and stability, led by former Prime Minister Abe, will be further expanded.

AI governance collaboration is also an Abe legacy

The rapid evolution of AI has pointed to threats ranging from the use of AI to guide public opinion to the development of ‘autonomous lethal weapon systems’ (LAWS) that attack targets without human judgement, requiring effective governance to manage their use and mitigate potential dangers.

In April, the BGF recognized Dr Alondra Nelson, who led AI policy as Acting Director of Science and Technology Policy in the Biden Government, with the AI Global Leadership Award. In an interview for the award, Dr Nelson said, “AI governance is a pressing issue. The Abe Initiative is a collaboration between important liberal democracies in the world, including the US, Europe, India and Japan, and she can help with AI governance”, and said she would extend the international collaboration through Abe’s initiative to AI governance.

Nature magazine named Dr Nelson one of the 10 people who shaped science in 2022, and in 2023, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in AI and the first black woman to be named by the White House to head US science and technology policy. Since October last year, she has been appointed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the UN High-Level Advisory Body on AI, where she is working on AI policy from a global perspective.

Coincidentally, prior to joining the Biden administration, Dr Nelson, as President of the independent non-profit US Social Science Research Council (SSRC), was responsible for the US side of the Abe Fellowship Programme, which promotes the exchange of researchers and journalists who are conducting interdisciplinary and international research and studies in the US and Japan, and was a long-time admirer of former Prime Minister Abe.

‘It was a meaningful programme of cross-cultural exchange, encouraging researchers and journalists to work with the SSRC. This time, the ‘connection’ with former Prime Minister Abe returned again. We will do our utmost to work on it, and with the Abe Initiative, we want to strengthen the cooperation between the liberal camps in AI governance and protect democracy.”

She commented. We want to extend a free and open international order from security to AI governance from the Pacific to the Atlantic to contain the hegemonic states of China and Russia.