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Japan’s active strategic diplomacy in recent years, including an enhanced security and economic partnership with India and the establishment of a small military base in Djibouti, can be seen as Indo-Pacific in character.
Indeed, Japanese policy statements are now frank about declaring that security issues in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, South China Sea, and East China Sea cannot be treated separately; Japan has a stake in all of them.
This, in turn, is a major strategic vulnerability, which is influencing diplomacy and partnership building, as well as the hard-power priorities of naval modernization.Notable among these is the “Maritime Silk Road” idea, which China under President Xi Jinping has promoted since late 2013 as a way to define its economic and diplomatic engagement across the Indian Ocean and beyond.The evolution of India’s “Look East” policy to an “Act East” agenda under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is part of a serious effort by India to become a more influential power east of Malacca.To some degree, the same can even be said of the Republic of Korea, which has undertaken lethal and effective special forces action against pirates in the Gulf of Aden; is developing “blue-water” or oceangoing naval capabilities in part to contribute to the protection of its energy-supply lifelines; and which, since 2011, has deployed 150-strong special-forces contingents to the United Arab Emirates on rotation to train local forces in counter-terrorism and to protect South Korea nationals and interests.The most active power, however, in developing and advocating the Indo-Pacific idea has undoubtedly been Australia.
Since 2007, Japanese policy speeches and statements have occasionally referred to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s formulation of the “confluence of two seas” ().