Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently visited Vietnam and Indonesia with a view to pursuing the East Asian powers’ “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy.
Mr Suga made the first stop in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Oct 19, and subsequently Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct 21. This was his first foreign visit after rising to power, replacing Shinzo Abe who left politics for health reasons in September.
While Southeast Asian countries are key to pursuing Japan’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy, Vietnam and Indonesia are strategically significant. Vietnam is currently Asean’s chair, while Indonesia is the only member of the Group of 20 major economies from Southeast Asia. Both of them have important roles, regarding historical, economic and political ties.
Katsunobu Kato, a cabinet secretary from Japan, states that Indonesia and Vietnam are partners when it comes to exchanging opinions over how to handle impending regional and global agendas, such as the cooperation needed for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. This encompasses considering the issue of China’s aggression in the South China Sea, the situation with North Korea, and broader Indo-Pacific partnerships.