Seeking Asian support for sanctions on Russia . . .
Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio will reportedly visit Southeast Asia this month to bridge the divide between several countries in the region and the U.S. and Europe over sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. While the West and Japan have condemned the invasion and imposed heavy sanctions on Moscow, some in Southeast Asia, for various reasons, remain reluctant to do so. According to Nikkei Asia, Kishida will travel this month to Indonesia, host of the G20 meeting in November, “to drum up Russia sanctions support.” G7 members have called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be disinvited from the G20 meeting in Indonesia. As the only non-Western G7 member, Japan is positioning itself as a kind of go-between, offering to assist Indonesian President Joko Widodo in navigating that “headache.”
Meeting the moment . . .
In recent years, Japan has pursued a more active foreign policy, including trying to shore up the international rules-based order. Russia’s violations of Ukrainian sovereignty have come as a shock to the system, prompting Japan to become even more proactive and unambiguous in its resolve to counter Russia’s actions, even at a cost to itself. As part of the international effort to punish Moscow economically, Japan will phase out its imports of Russian coal. And the Russia-Japan dialogue on resolving the more than 70-year-old territorial dispute over four islands – known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan – is now in a deep freeze. Nevertheless, the Japanese public is firmly in Kishida’s corner: 86 per cent say they support their government’s sanctions against Russia.
Seeing parallels . . .
The Japanese public also backs their prime minister in seeing parallels between Russian aggression in Europe and possible Chinese aggression in Asia, specifically against Taiwan or in the East China Sea. Japan is not alone in linking the two cases. Its efforts to strengthen ties among like-minded countries have not gone unnoticed by heavy hitters in Europe, especially as the latter re-evaluate their own relationships with China. For example, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has shown considerable interest in forging closer ties with Tokyo. But whether Kishida’s efforts with Europe or Southeast Asia build global stability will depend on many factors beyond his immediate control.
- The Diplomat: How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed Japan’s security policy
- The Diplomat: Japan resets its role in Europe in the wake of Ukraine War
- Stimson Foundation: The impact of the Ukraine crisis on Japanese foreign policy