Japan’s "Free and Open Indo-Pacific” Strategy: More Eloquent Japan and Domestic Political Institutions

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (Pacific)
Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Visually banner card with the event title "Japan’s "Free and Open Indo-Pacific” Strategy: More Eloquent Japan and Domestic Political Institutions", and featuring a circle photo portrait of speaker Professor Harukata Takenaka

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has advocated “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” Vision in 2016, various scholars have analyzed policy formulation process of FOIP. Most of them refer to the rise of China as an influential power in the Indo-Pacific region with its own initiative, namely, the Belt and Road Initiative as a major factor which prompted the Second Abe Administration to launch FOIP.

It is the contention of this presentation that the current configuration of the Japanese political institutions has made it possible for the Second Abe administration to launch and pursue such a comprehensive strategy while an international factor is important. It demonstrates that a series of political reforms since 1990s have strengthened the power of the prime minister as an institution to initiate key cabinet policies and coordinate policy formulation among different ministries. The strong institutional foundation of the Japanese prime ministerial power has made it possible for the Abe administration to effectively pursue such a broad vision, engaging various ministries and organizations.

The existing research on Japan's diplomacy often evaluates Japan as a passive state. It considers that in the past Japan only responded to foreign pressure while it did not proactively push forward its own policies. The presentation suggests that Japan has changed and become more eloquent as a result of changes in domestic political institutions.


Square photo portrait of Harukata TakenakaHarukata Takenaka is a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo. He holds a PhD from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Tokyo.

His key research areas are the role the prime minister in Japanese politics, changes in Japanese external policy, and democratization in Pre-war Japan.

Prof. Takenaka’s recent publications include: “Kyokoku Chugoku” to Taijisuru Indo-Taiheiyo Shokoku [Indo-Pacific Nations facing China aspiring to be a “Great Country”](edited) (Tokyo: Chikura Shobo, 2022), “Evolution of Japanese security policy and the House of Councilors,” Japanese Journal of Political Science, 22:2, (June 2021), 96-115, Korona Kiki no Seiji [Politics of Covid 19 Crisis](Tokyo: Chuo Koron Shinsha, 2020), “Expansion of the Japanese prime minister’s power in the Japanese parliamentary system: Transformation of Japanese politics and the institutional reforms,”Asian Survey,59:5:844-869 (September 2019); Futatsu no Seiken Kotai [Two Changes of Government] (edited) (Tokyo: Keiso Shobo, 2017); Failed Democratization in Prewar Japan (Stanford University Press 2014),