NEW DELHI: To deal with China, you must stay firm and strong, says Professor Tomohiko Taniguchi, Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s Cabinet, adding that “isolation is an invitation for aggression.” Speaking to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, on Abe’s legacy after he stepped down on August 28 with recurring health issues, the PM’s foreign policy speech writer says, Abe’s speech to India’s parliament in his first tenure (2006-’07) on the “confluence of the two seas” was the “genesis of the Indo-Pacific concept” which the PM further invested in his second term (2012-2020) as the “Quad, that’s gaining strength year after year”.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he’s learned from Abe, the Professor points out, “to cut a fine balance between engagement and deterrence or counterbalancing China.” Xi Jinping has been “conspicuous in his silence on Japan’s new direction about the Quad, further warming up to India, Australia and the U.S. or its investment in a cutting edge military arsenal,” the Professor of international political economy and Japanese diplomacy at Keio University says, “because Japan has regained its strength under Shinzō Abe”.
Warning that China’s expansionism was less obvious in 2007 than today, Taniguchi points out the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is on July 23, 2021(the same day as the rescheduled opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Japan). “Between now and beyond to 2049,” (the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China-PRC) he warns that “it’s very necessary for like-minded maritime democracies to come together to counterbalance China”.
“Consistency and continuity,” is what Professor Taniguchi sees in foreign policy from PM Abe’s successor. “Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is probably the strongest candidate and has been working with Abe” every single day for the last seven years and eight months. Another strong front-runner, he adds, Fumio Kishida spent “five years as Abe’s Foreign Minister” and has met his Indian counterpart Dr S Jaishankar several times so “needs no persuasion when it comes to the importance of strengthening the relationship.”