Japan

A food delivery motorist rides on a street as deliveries rise due to lockdown restrictions introduced to try to halt a surge in cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Phnom Penh on 26 April 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Japan passes China in the sprint to win Cambodian hearts and minds

Since 2010, Japan’s foreign policy toward Cambodia includes a new geopolitical dimension of balancing China’s influence in Cambodia, including strategies such as non-interference in Cambodia’s domestic affairs and providing development assistance that aligns with the Cambodian government’s development plan, focusing on infrastructure, human capital development, and agriculture. Japan has been relatively successful given the Cambodian population’s mixed reactions to China’s engagement in Cambodia. And it seems that Cambodia will continue to benefit from Japan's balancing-China strategy, as long as China-Japan rivalry stays manageable.   
Joggers run along the Bund as the Lujiazui Financial District stands in the background in Shanghai, China, 10 April 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Chinese researcher: No one can reverse the shrinking economic gap between China and the US

Researcher Chen Hongbin notes that the economic gap between China and the US is closing. But the crux is not when China will overtake the US, but how the US will cope with the change. Its previous high-pressure tactics may have worked against the Soviet Union and Japan, but China will be a different kettle of fish.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is pictured as it enters the port in Da Nang, Vietnam, 5 March 2020. (Kham/Reuters)

Indo-Pacific: Central theatre of America's struggle against its antagonist, China

It is easy to find fault with the recently declassified version of the US’s strategic framework for the Indo-Pacific. The fact remains, however, that the US is making strategic adjustments to steel itself for years, if not decades, of strategic competition with China.
Protestors hold slogans as they take part in a rally against the Japanese government's decision to release treated water from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the ocean, outside of the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, on 13 April 2021. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP)

Fukushima wastewater: Why China is protesting while the US gives the nod

Japan’s neighbours, China the most vociferous among them, have protested against Japan’s decision to dump contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean in two years’ time. On the other hand, Western countries have been accused of making minimal noise on account that it’s Japan. Is this another case of geopolitics politicising the situation? Would the world have reacted differently if it were China doing the dumping?
A coast guard official raises the Indian national flag on board the Indian Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel "Vajra" during its commissioning ceremony, in Chennai, India, on 24 March 2021. (Arun Sankar/AFP)

Indian academic: The Quad gains momentum and China feels threatened

Amrita Jash notes that the Quad has gained momentum since its inaugural virtual leader-level summit in March. China is worried, but she reasons that the Quad is taking a macro view by having a vision for a “free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law” in the Indo-Pacific, and this is a much larger endeavour than just simply targeting China. But whatever the suspicions or discomfort, the Quad mechanism looks set to stay.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering before flagging off the "Dandi March" or Salt March, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India's Independence, in Ahmedabad, India, 12 March 2021. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

Quad now centrepiece in India’s China strategy

In the past, India was reticent about participating in the Quad. But amid China’s growing military, economic and diplomatic assertiveness and India’s decreasing capability to balance China on its own, the prospect of a Quad mechanism to help it do so is looking more attractive. At the recent first Quad summit, leaders committed to expanding vaccine production in India and building resilient supply chains. If all stars align, India is set to play a greater role in the Quad. How will it use this to its advantage in Sino-Indian relations? Yogesh Joshi analyses the issue.
People cross a street under the rain at dusk while a shinkansen N700A series, or high speed bullet train, leaves Tokyo on 21 March 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Balancing China: Can Japan continue to be a reliable power in SEA after Abe?

Academic Victor Teo says that Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has big shoes to fill as his predecessor Shinzō Abe had made visible and significant achievements on both the domestic and diplomatic fronts. With the Biden administration in place in the US, and a rising China amid a post-pandemic world, how will Suga's Japan engage Southeast Asia? Will he reaffirm the “silent” leadership role that Japan has played in the region through economic and security means? Furthermore, Japan has guided the US in regional matters during Trump's presidency and has been keen to include Southeast Asian countries in the Quad. Can Japan fulfil its security goals without seriously antagonising China?  
A general view shows the skyline of Tokyo's Shinjuku area on 22 March 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Chinese academic: Japan is the ‘hidden warrior’ behind China-US competition

Chinese academic Deng Qingbo examines the recent Alaska meeting between China and the US, and concludes that Japan plays a hidden but crucial role in how the China-US relationship is developing. As Japan has much to gain from conflicts and intense competition between China and the US, it may indulge in actions that could worsen such big power competition and land the world in a disastrous situation.
U.S. President Joe Biden (top left), Yoshihide Suga, Japan's prime minister (top right), Scott Morrison, Australia's prime minister (bottom left), and Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, on a monitor during the virtual Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) meeting at Suga's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on 12 March 2021. (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

Quad: A regional military alliance to contain China will not work

The Quad comprising US, Japan, Australia, and India is still in its early days. Some fear it could become an “Asian NATO” targeting China, but how likely is this, given the region’s history of multilateralism in the security arena? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun examines the issue.