Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 01/16/2023

RADAR SWEEP

Geopolitics Newsletter January 9 – January 16 2023

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the US – Jan. 13

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the United States on Jan. 13 to discuss the Japanese-American security partnership in the Pacific. This is. Kishida’s first visit to the United States, and is part of a broader diplomatic push by Japan to strengthen its alliances, as well as its own national security capabilities, in the face of growing threat from China. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strategic partnership across a wide area of mutual interests in order to combat rising threats.

Both Tokyo and Washington have prioritized strengthening their alliances in the face of new challenges from China, North Korea and Russia. Both President Biden and Kishida view China as a major long-term threat facing their countries, and have increased defense spending and deepend regional alliances in an effort to counter Beijing’s rise. However, while the leaders’ discussion focused on China, it is not the only threat facing their democracies. North Korea has launched nearly 100 ballistic missiles this year, including one over Japan, reviving fears that the nuclear state could greatly destabilize the region. Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has reiterated to Japan the necessity of providing for its own defense in the event of war, driving a massive increase in military spending and a shift away from a defensive posture in its most recent national security strategy [EXTERNAL].

Going forward, it is highly likely Japan and the United States will continue to increase defense spending and military cooperation with other regional partners. While Japan’s increased defense spending and new security posture were initially controversial shifts from the traditional, non-aggressive policy required by the constitution, it has gained [EXTERNAL] popular support in the face of rising threats and the belief in the need for proactive defense. The US and Japan are also expected to increase economic cooperation to secure critical supply chains for goods such as semiconductors in order to cut out threats from potential adversaries, specifically China. This, however, will likely be a tougher task, as global economic integration makes it difficult to cut off such a large and vital producer such as China from access to global goods and markets.

Biden Kishida
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in Washington this week – Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Japanese, American ministers held Two Plus Two Talks- Jan. 11

Foreign and defense ministers from Japan and the US met in Washington, D.C. to discuss regional security and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The meeting follows publication of Japan’s new defense strategy, which prioritizes expanding the Japanese military budget and bolstering cybersecurity as well as tactical capabilities. In the near term, the two countries are expected to continue to combine strategic and offensive capabilities as a main priority in Japan’s national security development plans. Read more

India and Japan held first Veer Guard 2023 exercise – Jan. 12

India and Japan began their first aerial exercise at Hyakuri Air Base. The two-week exercise, Veer Guardian 2023, is part of growing defense cooperation between the two countries. Strained relations with China for both nations are partial motivating factors for this cooperation. In response, China is expected to develop stronger bilateral ties with Indian rivals such as Pakistan and conduct its own military drills in the Indian Ocean. Read more

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken addressed India-US Forum – Jan. 13

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken addressed the sixth India-US Forum in New Delhi. US-India bilateral relations have grown in the defense sector, and increased economic cooperation has also contributed to developing ties. Forum participants discussed the war in Ukraine, Afghanistan-Pakistan relations and defense cooperation. A current barrier to further ties between the two countries is India’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which may create a rift between India and the United States. Read more

Diplomacy

Society and Defense Forum began – Jan. 8

The Society and Defense Forum, a national security forum held by the Swedish Society and Defense think tank, was held on January 8. The first such forum since Sweden applied for NATO membership, talks centered around the Russian war in Ukraine and Swedish ascension to NATO. Read more

Thailand and Sri Lanka restarted trade deal talks – Jan. 9

After delays from the COVID-19 pandemic and disagreements over debt relief, Thailand and Sri Lanka resumed trade deal talks. Against the backdrop of a shrinking economy, Sri Lanka hopes to secure foreign investment and expand trade with Thailand by the end of 2023. The signing of a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries has the potential to contribute to an uptick in economic growth and reduce Sri Lankan dependency on China. Read more

Pakistan Chief of Army Staff concluded UAE Visit – Jan. 10

The Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir concluded his official visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Munir sought to signify continued strength in Pakistan’s bilateral military cooperation with the two countries as Islamabad suffers from pronounced economic difficulty at home. Ultimately, Pakistan’s defense relationship with Riyadh is expected to take precedence over its military cooperation with Abu Dhabi. Read more 

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida visited Rome – Jan. 10

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Rome this past week for a bilateral summit in Italy. As part of a G7 tour, Kishida hopes to lay the foundations for the group’s summit, planned for May in Hiroshima. Japan is expected to focus heavily on security agreements — specifically inking future arms deals with the United States —- as the threat of an increasingly powerful China continues to emerge as the central strategic concern of Tokyo. Read more

Politics

Tunis opposition groups held protests – Jan. 14

Opposition groups in Tunisia held protests in response to rising political and economic crises. Led by unions, the protestors hoped to put political pressure on President Kais Saied’s government to increase living standards and end political deadlock. Read more

Czech Republic held first round election – Jan. 13

The Czech Republic held its first round election on Friday with three candidates expected to receive 27% of the vote. Petr Pavel, a retired army chief, is the favorite to win a run-off in two weeks. This election round saw an increase in support for right-wing candidates who favored restricting aid to Ukraine and closer ties with Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Read more.

Iraq began embezzlement trial of former prime minister’s advisor – Jan. 12

Iraq began the embezzlement trial for an advisor to former prime minister Mustafa Al-Khademi. Haitham al-Juburi is implicated in the disappearance of $2.5 billion in tax revenue. The current government has made tackling corruption one of its primary focuses. Read more. 

Environment

Pakistan appealed for international flood aid – Jan. 9

At the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in Geneva, Pakistan appealed for humanitarian aid. Floods exacerbated an already dire economic situation characterized by poverty and homelessness amid rising fuel and gas prices, as well as a depreciating currency. Read more

Greta Thunberg joined coal mine protest in Germany – Jan. 14

Greta Thunberg joined protesters speaking out against the opening of a coal mine in Luetzerath, Germany. Despite plans to phase out coal for energy generation by 2030, proponents of the plan argue that it is necessary amid the reduction of natural gas imports from Russia. Protesters are concerned that the opening and reopening of coal mines will make it difficult to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in line with the Paris Climate Accord. Read more

THE WEEK AHEAD

New Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang to complete a five-country tour of Africa – Jan. 16

China’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, will conclude a five country tour of Africa in Egypt on Jan. 16. China has been increasing economic investment and political partnerships with African countries to secure critical raw materials and political support in an effort to challenge Western democracies, particularly the United States, on the world stage. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Annual meeting of the World Economic Forum will be held in Switzerland – Jan. 16

The World Economic Forum will hold its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, from Jan. 16-20. The meeting will focus on growing inflation and slowing economic growth rates driven by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Read more [EXTERNAL]

North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly to convene – Jan. 17

The Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, the country’s parliament, will convene on January 17 to discuss the government budget and laws decided on by the ruling cabinet. The body is largely ceremonial and serves to rubber-stamp decisions made by the ruling clique led by Kim Jong Un. Read more

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit the US – Jan. 17

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit the United States on Jan. 17 to meet with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The two are set to discuss normalizing relations with Syria, diplomatic efforts to end the Russia-Ukraine war, and Turkey’s blocking of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO. Read more

 

Contributions by: Wescott Yeaw, Alex Avaneszadeh, Simran Sharma, Marcos Wilson, Connor Elliott, Htet Thadar Aung, Kyle Rose, Ali Slimi and Andrew Alipui

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *