Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is the first Japanese premier to visit all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In late November, Emperor Akihito will make the first visit by a Japanese monarch to India. Not on either dignitary’s itinerary—China. And that’s no accident.
Abe, a foreign-policy hawk who’s clashed with the Chinese over the ownership of some Japanese-controlled islands, wants to shore up relations with the swath of nations forming a semicircle around China. Some have their own beefs, including India, which shares a disputed border with China. Abe will visit India next year, and in mid-December will host Asean leaders. It’s all part of his campaign to thwart China’s rulers, who, as he wrote in a column last December, see the South China Sea as “Lake Beijing.”
In the same Dec. 27 column where he made his “Lake Beijing” comment, Abe wrote, “The ongoing disputes … mean that Japan’s top foreign-policy priority must be to expand the country’s strategic horizons. … I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific.” Abe also wants Japan to join the Five Power Defence Arrangements of Britain, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Full article: Japan’s Abe Seeks Friends in Asia—but Not China (Bloomberg Businessweek)