Country Report: Japan (October 2018)

Setting aside the rush of publications on China and North Korea—from Abe’s October visit to China to Japan’s response to plans for a new Trump-Kim summit—this report covers Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and India. The time span is the summer of 2018. Late in this period, Abe saw Putin surprise him with an unwelcome and even rude proposal on their bilateral dispute, made little headway in Japan’s marginalization in dealing with North Korea and building trust with South Korea, and failed to escape the shadow of Trump’s unilateralism in Asia with trade threats that obliged Abe to enter into bilateral talks as he remained nervous about the spillover from a US-China trade war. This was a difficult period for Japanese foreign policy, raising questions on whether it is really a great power, when it has been left only a bystander on matters all around its borders.

Reporting on Trump’s repeated shocks, Sankei on June 27 cited Philip Stephens of the Financial Times in stating that more than North Korea, China, or Russia, Trump is the greatest threat to world peace and stability. While Yomiuri is too close to Abe to air such alarm, newspapers on the left, such as Asahi on September 13 citing Woodward’s Fear, were similarly concerned about Trump’s thinking on security, pointing to the danger of a first strike against North Korea even as others were now worried about a deal with the North disregarding regional security. Another concern was about managing bilateral relations in Asia, as China was courting not only Japan but also India, which is eager for Chinese investment and funds from the AIIB. On July 17 Yomiuri warned of gaps in thinking about China among the Quad and the urgency for Trump to forge a concrete security policy for India beyond the vague concept of the “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Yet, it did, as on July 23, find some merit in Trump’s response to China in the US-Australia 2+2 talks and later on September 7 in the US-India 2+2 talks, which sought to compensate for neglect of the Indo-Pacific apart from North Korea as China filled the vacuum with its BRI regional strategy.

On August 23, summarizing journal articles, Sankei concluded that the Sino-US trade war is a struggle for hegemony, concentrating on high tech, and will continue as a cold war, damaging the global economy as Trump finds it useful not only for the midterm elections but for his re-election in 2020. Once begun, as pride is aroused, it will be hard to contain, unlike the 1980s US-Japan trade skirmishes that could be managed because Japan had no ambition to replace the United States as a superpower. Secrecy controls and military tensions will accompany this cold war. On August 27 Yomiuri agreed, referring to the trade war as a “great game,” portending losses for the world economy with no end in sight, while calling for Japan to stand as the protector of free trade even though it will be caught up in the trade war. Coverage was reluctant to either fully side with the United States against China’s abuses of trade or to join with China in defense of what China claims to be its fight against protectionism. When on July 27 Yomiuri covered the BRICS summit, where China as well as Russia raised the their support for multilateralism and new international relations, it focused on splits among the five BRICS states (2/3 of the total GDP coming from China), Russia’s concern about the BRI in Central Asia, and the lack of political importance of the organization. Japan was clearly not about to make common cause against the United States as it saw dangers mounting, but it also was left unable to coordinate with a newly unilateralist United States, leaving Japan deeply marginalized.


In the May/June issue of Kaigai Jijo, Hyodo Shinji explained why security cooperation between Japan and Russia should intensify. First, the Russian threat disappeared after the Cold War with democratization and marketization, but Hyodo says nothing about the reversals later in these processes. Second, North Korea and China replaced Russia as a threat, giving Japan sound reason to strengthen security dialogue and trust with Russia. Third, while US-Russia relations sank to their lowest level with the 2014 event in Crimea and “Russia-gate” in 2017—with Americans even deciding to make Russia enemy No. 1—Japan had to think differently about Russia’s place in its security, Hyodo adds, ignoring Japan’s shared security interests with its ally and Europe. Fourth, in 2013, Japan’s new National Security Council decided to regard Russia as a security partner amid rising expectations, and these have continued along with hopes for resolution of the Northern Territories issue. Despite rising concern from 2014 over how much Japan could have an autonomous foreign policy toward Russia, it reaffirmed that posture in 2016, especially after the election of Trump. Fifth, the security environment for Japan has worsened due to North Korea and China, adding to the importance of Japan-Russia cooperation, even if right now Russia is unwilling to have a frank discussion about China and, due to the US-Russia split over Ukraine and Syria, Russia has drawn closer to China. Sixth, despite Russia’s military build-up and moves near Japan, the two have agreed on working-level military cooperation and continue to discuss Japan’s Aegis Ashore, which Hyodo takes seriously, at odds with pessimism by others. Seventh, Russia does not want to be China’s junior partner, needs security ties with India and Vietnam as well as Japan for power balance, and is not interested only in Japan’s richer economy. Eighth, a long-term view of Japan’s national interest consistent with it being a major player in international society means that Japan does not treat Russia as a threat and should strengthen their partnership with security and energy in the forefront, but all-around upgrading is sought. Ninth, US influence has fallen since Trump took office, and the United States has joined North Korea and China in posing problems for the security environment in East Asia, but Russia is not on that list. Tenth, given three territorial disputes, it is important for Japan to resolve one, and that one is with Russia. Eleventh, strengthening bilateral ties is necessary to prevent Russia from becoming a negative factor in Japan’s security; so that it will not join with China against Japan. Twelfth, Putin is resistant to polarization through an anti-US and pro-China line and seeks multipolarity, while he rejects China extending the BRI to the Arctic route. Hyodo’s assumptions are questionable about Putin’s intentions, Japan’s ability to pursue an autonomous foreign policy, and the results of Abe-Putin diplomacy to date. It is striking how little analysis of Russian policies enters into the article and how a desperation about Sino-Russian relations turning against Japan finally creeps into it.

The following (July/August) issue of Kaigai Jijo was devoted to Russia, including a review of how territorial talks have failed by Honda Ryoichi and Nagoshi Kenro. It starts by noting the huge waste of money—of about 2 billion yen a year and about 300 billion in total since the collapse of the Soviet Union—on related programs as Abe has met 21 times with Putin. Much attention is given to Honda’s book on the inner story of the territorial talks, following in the wake of Togo Kazuhiko’s book a decade earlier, while concentrating on what the participants have had to say. Japan’s best chance was in 1992 when Russia made an informal offer that Japan rejected. Another chance occurred in 2001 when Japan made an offer, which was not accepted by Russia. Japan was under the sway of the Northern Territories movement nurtured during the Cold War and reflected in the Foreign Ministry, leaving little room for compromise. It was the Japanese leader’s turn to visit Moscow after Gorbachev’s visit to Tokyo, but Japan insisted on Yeltsin coming first (a pattern out of order, much as Abe’s visits to Putin have deviated from the customary rotation). Germany won while Japan lost due to different approaches and bad timing following the backlash in Russia to German unification. Japan erroneously claimed a huge victory in the 1993 talks with Yeltsin, showing again the Foreign Ministry’s misjudgments and losing any momentum. Japan had 14 percent of the global GDP, while Russia was hurting, but it could not buy the islands, reminding the Russians of the Alaska fiasco; Japan should have concentrated on payments to islanders, which would have allowed them to return to the mainland to find good housing, as many had desired. The popular idea that it is easier to deal with today’s strong Russia (a third of Japan’s GDP versus a hundredth then) than the earlier weak Russia is misleading. Abe’s new approach for two islands plus alpha is also unacceptable to Russia since it leaves the future vague with joint economic activity and control on the larger two islands, although some see the special system to be established as Japan’s tatemae, hiding recognition of Russia’s real control. The article concludes that bad Russo-US relations lead Putin to refuse to deal and the US side to object, too, leaving Japan’s diplomacy in a rut. The authors bemoan Japan’s bad timing, always late in its approach and delegating power to narrow-minded officials until Abe finally took charge for the kantei, but with limited results.

After Moon Jae-in went to Moscow, Sankei onJune 23 reported on the agreements reached, coordinating on North Korea and strengthening bilateral economic ties as well as making more concrete trilateral projects with the North, beginning with joint surveys. Russia was keen on making its presence felt after months of marginalization, while both were optimistic that the situation on the peninsula had turned for the better. Clearly, there is no coordination between Tokyo and Seoul in diplomacy with Moscow although both are making conditional overtures. On June 23 Yomiuri Shimbun also discussed Moon’s visit with Putin during the World Cup. It noted Putin’s pleasure with the new atmosphere on the peninsula and call for resumption of the Six-Party Talks as well as his eagerness for three-way talks to begin on both a natural gas pipeline and railway linking the three and for a gathering of leaders at the Eastern Economic Forum in September, including both Moon and Kim—hopes that would not materialize.

After the Japan-Russia 2+2 meeting on August 1 Yomiuri stressed the unanimity reached on North Korea, while noting Japan’s call for complete denuclearization. Pointing to the need for mutual understanding on security, the article noted a split over when sanctions should be relaxed as Japan appealed for strict enforcement. Japan opposed intensifying military activities on the disputed islands, and Russia opposed missile defense Aegis Ashore. Japan seeks to use the talks to build trust for the return of the islands, while Russia’s aim is to split the G7, it is asserted. In comparison to the prior two 2+2 meetings, the outcome appears more problematic, but the article is reticent about pointing to the thrust of the bilateral gap or to question their utility. In Sankei that day there was also mention of Russia’s call for abolishing visas between Sakhalin and Hokkaido. The next day Yomiuri editorialized more pointedly, adding that 390 Russian flights had forced Japanese jets to scramble and warning of a worsened security environment. Yet, its thrust was to value these meetings for striving to forge more bilateral trust in advance of Abe’s visit to Vladivostok and arranging an inspection team for joint economic development to go to the islands in pursuit of territorial negotiations, which somehow are to ensue in the next stage.

Yomiuri noticeably altered its tone on Russia after the Eastern Economic Forum. On September 11, it warned of a long slog, acknowledging that Japanese had been wrong to assume that once Putin won reelection he would take a softer line toward Japan allowing for real exchanges. That day a reporter in Vladivostok noted that North Korean workers were disappearing from the Far East (the 10,000 who had been in Primorskii Krai in 2017 are leaving as their contracts expire, and only 3,000 remain, driving up construction prices if work is even continuing). The next day Yomiuri wrote of Vostok-18 as Russia and China draw closer, threatening Japan with two-front military activity in the southwest and north after Japan had been transferring forces away from the north. Thus, Japan needs to strive to prevent a worsening of relations with Russia, it wrote, asking if the United States did not underestimate Sino-Russian ties. A headline that day asserted that Russia and China have now agreed to joint development of the Russian Far East. Yet, the paper again stressed pressing forward on joint economic activity, although Japan must not agree to Russia’s insistence that its own laws apply. Still, the paper kept noting that Putin’s surprise offer had put officials in Japan in a quandary. It had not been raised with Japan in advance, even when Putin and Abe spoke on September 10—a diplomatic affront as Russia, claiming bad weather, cancelled the August visit of the Japanese to the islands.

On September 13, Yomiuri even found Abe’s shift from “Vladimir” to “President Putin” at a joint news conference on September 10 a sign of trouble. On September 14, it reported that Russia has drawn closer to China, while Putin has in reality put aside territorial talks with Japan, and that he is driven by alarm about the United States and a view that Japan’s Aegis Ashore is part of the US missile defense network. While the ostensible aim of the forum was to boost investment in the Russian Far East, and Russia to reduce its isolation in the region had planned to host Kim Jong-un, the forum turned into a showcase for Sino-Russian ties in security as well as economy. Also that day, Yomiuri reported that Russia believes it will take decades before there are territorial talks, that two years after Abe’s plan to invest in Russia was announced, little has happened (on the 17th the paper editorialized that Japan must stick to its principle that territory comes before peace treaty even if a long road lies ahead, and big companies have little interest in Russia apart from the impact of sanctions), and that Russia now sees the islands as having greater strategic importance. When Putin congratulated Abe on his reelection by the LDP, he called for continued talks, but few in Japan held out serious hope.

On September 24 Yomiuri reported on a national survey that showed that 75 percent of respondents support the Japanese government’s position to conclude a peace treaty after the Northern Territories are resolved, while few agreed with Putin’s position; the number in favor of a summit with North Korea also fell from 41 to 38 percent in one month. On that same day Sankei took note of Huanqiu Shibao of September 12 on the importance of Xi Jinping making his first appearance at the Eastern Economic Forum as the most honored guest, of high expectations now for cooperation in the Russian Far East where China’s role is indispensable and 28 projects are set in which China will invest $4 billion, and of the joint message being sent to Trump. Yet, some were not dissuaded from urging more pursuit of Putin. Suzuki Muneo on August 20 in Sankei had pressed for that, insisting that one can most certainly believe in Abe’s diplomacy. He gave a timetable for the joint development of the islands; Putin will come in June 2019 for the G20 in Japan, and certain results will show in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—all while Abe stays in office. In three articles on September 29 in Yomiuri Shimotomai Nobuo, Iwashita Akihiro, and Alexander Panov all took an upbeat approach. Shimotomai found it positive that Putin—in front of Xi—called for signing a peace treaty with Japan and that Putin is trying to work with Japan as well as India and Vietnam as if to surround China, while arguing that he is not putting aside a territorial agreement, just seeking an interim one. Iwashita sees a parallel to Russia’s treaty with China in 2001 and then a territorial agreement in 2004, and finds promise that Abe, Putin, and Xi stood together at a time US-Russian ties are bad. Panov offers assurances that after signing a treaty Russia will consider its duty to negotiate to transfer two islands, also citing the China parallel and pointing to concern about US bases on the islands as a delaying factor. He argues that Putin’s main reason for seeking a peace treaty is security, as he hopes to bind future leaders.

South Korea

On July 5, Yomiuri Shimbun reported on the gap between 73 percent of South Koreans and 23 percent of Japanese in favor of renegotiating the 2015 agreement and an even greater divide in thinking about the pros and cons of erecting “comfort women” statues. In both countries young people in their 20s were most inclined to answer that renegotiations are necessary (40 percent in Japan and 80 percent in South Korea). Even so, both sides see relations as improving: 33 percent in Japan say that they are good, a 20 percent jump in a year, while 60 percent claim they are bad, a 17 percent drop. In South Korea, those saying “good” also rose from 15 percent to 26 percent whereas 69 percent stated “bad.” In both countries, youth were more positive about the relationship. The article notes that in 1995 to 2011, Japanese viewed relations as good, but not Koreans; however, from 2013 Japanese too saw them as bad. Key to the improvement now lies with Moon: he should not demand renegotiations and the two sides should work together on North Korea. Still, about twice as many Japanese trust South Korea and feel friendly to it as the other way around. At least, few now expect a downturn in relations. Despite articles casting doubt on Moon’s moves toward North Korea, there was some relief that bilateral ties were overcoming the tensions over history issues.

The article also analyzed rising support for dialogue with North Korea in both Japan and South Korea as opposed to pressure. In Japan, an equal 46 percent now choose each option, while in South Korea 60 percent now favor dialogue. Whereas 44 percent in the South prefer relaxing sanctions in stages, only 26 percent in Japan would do so before complete denuclearization. Japanese also more often feel a threat, while the sense of threat has fallen in the South below 50 percent along with greater optimism (over 30 percent) in complete denuclearization.

Another article in Yomiuri on July 5 reported on Japanese companies interviewing Korean students on June 29-30, as 45 companies spoke with 340 students of the 1600 who had registered. Some spoke Japanese, some said their dream was to live in Japan, and the number who seek jobs is rising, given the high youth unemployment in South Korea. Familiar with cultural closeness through their travel and study abroad, the 19-29 year-olds in South Korea has the highest rate of feeling friendly to Japan at 37 percent. Only 7 Japanese companies had recruited in 2015, but nationality is less meaningful in hiring today. Tourism is rising rapidly from South Korea, climbing by 40 percent to 7.14 million in 2017, driving positive images and forward-looking outlooks, despite entrenched criticisms of the Japanese government over history issues, the article asserts. The conclusion is relatively hopeful about bottom-up ties.

On June 24 Tokyo Shimbun covered the death of Kim Jong-pil, described as shinilpa and a thick pipe to Japanese leaders including Nakasone. He is portrayed as playing a large role in both the normalization of relations and in agreements for economic cooperation. Other papers praised him, too, although Yomiuri that day did mention his criticisms of Japan. Both Nakasone and Abe are quoted praising his contributions. Apart from following North-South relations, papers did not focus much on Seoul again until liberation day on August 15, coverage of which was mostly upbeat. Moon’s 20-minute speech was mostly about North-South relations and, unlike 2017, was seen as restrained toward Japan, while stressing the positive role of all neighboring countries in Korean reconciliation (leading to a seven-country “East Asian railroad community” including the United States and Mongolia). Tokyo Shimbun on August 16contrasted these future-oriented remarks with those from North Korea that day, recalling great suffering and, seemingly, calling for large-scale reparations. Moon’s desire to put Seoul in the position of go-between between the United States and China was noted in Yomiuri on August 15. Asahi had not waited to express (on August 8) its appreciation of Moon’s “realistic” means aiming for reunification in a long article by Kim Ki Jung asking for Japan to play an important role.

In contrast, Sankei took aim at Moon in a large number of articles: 1) charging on June 23 that Koreans had comprised about half the police force under Japanese rule; 2) warning on August 8 of a court ruling ahead in Seoul demanding payment from Japanese companies for forced labor; 3) editorializing on August 16 that Moon was setting bilateral relations back by denying the 2015 ”comfort women deal” (pointing to South Korea’s own use of such women in the Korean War and Vietnam War), designating August 14 a day of remembrance for them, preparing to celebrate with North Korea in 2019 the 100th anniversary of the independence movement in a “joint historical struggle” (according to another August 16 piece), and removing the North as an enemy in its defense white paper and sending the wrong message to the North; 4) asserting on September 1 that the merger of Japan and Korea had saved the Korean people, and then on the one-year anniversary of the San Francisco “comfort women” statue railing against this travesty.  Earlier on July 7, Sankei had praised Japan’s vital role, including that of Fukuzawa Yukichi, in the spread of hangul, dealing a blow to the domination of Chinese characters in the elite still late in the nineteenth century and to its one-sided veneration for China, implying that Japan’s help in Korea’s cultural independence should be praised while ignoring its cultural genocide thereafter.


The June issue of Toa carried a piece by Watanabe Takeshi on how Chinese “sharp power” was shaking up Taiwanese identity. Although what he discusses is not what is conventionally meant by sharp power, he presents a far-reaching argument about the effectiveness since 2016 of efforts to undercut identification with Taiwan and lead the people there to draw closer to the PRC. In a 2017 poll inside Taiwan, the number answering that they are Taiwanese fell by 5 percent to 56 percent, while those who answered that they are both Taiwanese and Chinese rose by 6 percent to 34 percent. Taiwanese identity had been strongest among those in their 20s and 30s, shaped by changes in education, for whom the drop was 6-7 percent. There was also a drop in support for Taiwan’s independence, reaching as high as 17 percent (to 37 percent) for those in their 30s. Watanabe attributes the changes to the success of China’s United Front work. Noted too are the impact of advancing economic closeness, as a 2013 peak in alarm over dependency had been set aside and nearly three-quarters would prioritize economic ties if they had to choose between those and pursuit of independence. Watanabe describes how sharp power has been exercised: pro-China companies have purchased big media; and university personnel, researchers, retired military officers and officials have been invited to the PRC and treated generously, while the education industry has become dependent on Chinese exchange students. Also, since the time of Hu Jintao, weak links in Taiwan—small and medium enterprises, the lower and middle class, and the center and south of Taiwan—have been prioritized, while Xi Jinping has added the young people to this list. Under Tsai Ing-wen, separating the masses from the government has been working, as many look to the mainland for jobs, study, and investments. Yet, the article reminds readers that Taiwanese identity still prevails and most of the people there are opposed to unification with the PRC.

On June 27 Sankei noted more self-confidence in Taiwan as linkages to the United States are expanding. As the threat from China grows, it says that the United States is stepping up, as Tsai desires, but she seeks more from Japan, which has only one retired SDF officer in its Taipei offices. On July 16, it saw a danger in the November general election from Tsai’s falling poll numbers, one factor for which is the worsening PRC-Taiwan relationship. On August 23, it editorialized that in response to PRC pressure in getting states to severe diplomatic ties, the people of Taiwan should become more hostile to the PRC. The response on August 27 in a Tokyo Shimbun editorial was different: it said that Tsai is provoking China by drawing close to the United States while also blaming PRC behavior, and it appealed for the people of Taiwan to not split into pro- and anti-China and instead to struggle over how to describe Taiwan’s future. On the evening of September 25, Yomiuri noted without any dissent Taiwan’s gratitude for new US arms sales and Trump’s emphasis on closer relations.

Southeast Asia

In the March/April Gaiko Yamakage Susumu assessed how Southeast Asia is responding to China’s advance south, a subject of great interest to Japan. He found three factors accounting for how China is splitting ASEAN apart: 1) responses to the South China Sea territorial dispute differ depending on whether a state has a dispute with China; 2) support for ASEAN unity varies depending on the degree of economic dependence on China, especially for late-developing countries; and 3) the level of democratization impacts the response. How ASEAN as a unit reacts also depends on which country is chairing the group that year. Given this situation, Japan has joined China, he adds, in working separately with countries in the region, often with US coordination, despite its hope to strengthen ASEAN’s role in the East Asian regional order.

Hirakawa Hitoshi in the June Toa examined China’s BRI from the perspective of regional order, considering regional economic control and political risk. Noting that a big change occurred when East Asia became an economic market, replacing the development triangle from the 1970s, as intra-regional trade boomed. Before long, China replaced the United States as the leading trade partner of numerous countries. Hirakawa points to 2015 as the most important year for the BRI, as the BRICS, SCO, and EEU all accommodated this initiative. While he finds some problematic elements in the BRI—strict financial conditions, maritime military advances, damage to the environment, and troubles for local resident—he notes that Japan has shifted its stance to conditional cooperation. Earlier by refusing, along with the United States, to join the AIIB and insisting that Japan prefers high-quality infrastructure investment while boosting ODA to the affected region, Japan was aloof. But from May 2017 Abe has shifted to cooperation despite his advocacy of a “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy” and working with the Quad on plans for joint infrastructure initiatives to contain China, argues Hirakawa, as the development frontier has moved to the west. Under the aegis of the BRI, China presses countries to conform: stopping political exchanges with Mongolia and closing part of the border after the Dalai Lama visited there in November 2016, leaving hundreds of trucks idling for hours or days in the extreme cold. With the BRI, countries grow ever more dependent on China. The infrastructure battle of China and Japan is fought on the frontier of the transition from a US-Japan centered region to one centered on China. Hirakawa does not explain how Abe’s shift toward cooperation affects this transition but stresses the dilemma of economic dependence versus political autonomy.

In the May-June Kaigai Jijo Yoshino Fumio described how China’s influence is advancing in Southeast Asia, posing a big concern to countries that want to maintain their autonomy. In this region such penetration has been the pattern: long-term Indianization, Islamization from the 15th century, influences of Holland and England from the 17th century, Chinese merchant migration later with little assimilation and without Sinification, democratization and other Western thought with greater effect on the population, and now, under China’s impact, the strengthening of the state. The ASEAN charter, which aimed for democracy, has been pushed aside, Yoshino argues. Chinese state capitalism is seen as bringing faster growth, for which freedom is not needed. This means that the Chinese autocratic tradition is taking root in Southeast Asia. Yoshino calls instead for the region to start becoming a cultural exporter.

In the July Toa, Onogi Shoma depicted an intensification of danger in the South China Sea as China rapidly militarizes the area and the United States, including think tanks, warn about it, even if Trump has grown silent after his November 2017 visit to the region. Attention is drawn to the US response at the Shangri-La dialogue in June after Xi Jinping broke his 2015 assurance to Obama not to militarize the islands and outposts. Much of the article is on what new steps the United States is going to be taking as its rhetoric was finally intensifying from the spring of 2018.

Newspaper coverage of the ARF foreign ministers’ meetings acknowledged China’s growing clout under the impact of the BRI. While Yomiuri on August 8 singled out Malaysia’s toughening criticism of China as it drew closer to Japan, it noted that Duterte has kept to his softer line on China and distrust of the United States, as opposed to his predecessor even when as many as 70 percent of the Philippine public in June supported his country’s sovereignty in the South China Sea. The usual pro-China countries, readers were told, were not alone in taking a soft line on a code of conduct without binding legal force, while setting aside the rapidly building defense network on artificial islands by China. ASEAN states also have agreed to joint military exercises with China in Guangdong province in October. A day earlier Yomiuri had compared the 2017 ARF wording with the 2018 statement, pointing to the exclusion of CVID on North Korea and omitting the words “abductees” as North Korea joined and others sought to spur dialogue. In the smaller EAS ARF that followed without the North, some wording was restored, but the article suggests that with China and Russia present vagueness prevailed. In Tokyo Shimbun on August 20 it was clearly stated that China’s influence in Southeast Asia had grown due to its economic assistance and the strategic security competition over the South China Sea had intensified, leaving ASEAN divided and even amenable to join in military exercises, described as aimed at containing Japan and the United States, as the heading of the article clearly asserted.


Taking a fresh look at the AIIB and Sino-Indian cooperation therein, Yoshioka Keiko contrasts the BRI, which India rejects, with the AIIB, where it is the second main player after China. By 2025 the AIIB is aiming to disperse $100 billion in loans, and as of July of the 28 disbursements, one-quarter have gone to India with 5 others awaiting confirmation. The Toa article asserts that India joined the AIIBto draw loans and to prevent China from hijacking the region. It argues that Xi is seeking better ties with Modi due to Trump’s hardline moves, putting a lid on their territorial dispute and in the April informal summit nourishing the “Wuhan spirit” with Modi. In June at the Shangri-la, India refrained from adopting strong language about China, differing from Japan’s use of the “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy” to contain China. The AIIB has become a link in the Sino-Indian “honeymoon” despite the issues that divide them. Another point in the article is that the states of Southeast Asia had wanted Japan to join the AIIB, but with European powers entering, they have shifted to welcoming Japan’s support for the ADB, which dispenses nine times as much in annual loans and allows for competition, and now Japan should cooperate more with the AIIB is their viewpoint. Coverage of India in the context of the “open and free Indo-Pacific” appears to have faded as attention has focused on Sino-Japanese relations with Abe scheduled to visit Xi Jinping and on North Korea as Japan watches US diplomacy.