On June 10, Prime Minister Kishida delivered a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. I listened to it without much expectation, but he clearly stated "Pacific island countries" and "maritime security" (and clearly stated the budget of 2 billion dollars) and the dispatch of the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Indo-Pacific in great detail.
All of which I have been involved in since 2008, or nearly 40 years.
Lately, memory lapses often occur to me. I couldn't put it all together in a sentence, so I talked about it twice in the Twitter space.
Prime Minister Kishida's Shangri-La speech and Indo-Pacific maritime security
Prime Minister Kishida's Shangri-La Speech and Indo-Pacific Maritime Security (2)
First, a paragraph on Pacific island countries. It is quite long and detailed. In the history of the Shangri-La Dialogue, there has probably never been a case in which a leader has stated so explicitly. Obviously, Wang Yi's island-hopping was taken into consideration, but the Japanese government has included maritime security and the Indo-Pacific in the agenda for the 8th Island Summit in 2018. I was the one who proposed it.
"Along with ASEAN countries, Pacific Island Countries are also important partners for the realization of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. We will contribute to strengthening the foundation for their sustainable and resilient economic development, including addressing the existential challenge of climate change. We have provided timely assistance in response to recent changes in the security environment, such as laying an undersea cable in east Micronesia in partnership with Australia and the U.S., and we will work together with our Pacific Island partners to ensure a rules-based sustainable maritime order."
Next is maritime security. The fact that the term "maritime security facilities" is used here instead of "Coast Guard" should be read as an awareness of maritime security that goes beyond the activities of the Japan Coast Guard. This is because many countries do not have a coast guard, and the partners with whom Japan collaborates have navies in charge of law enforcement, such as Royal Australian Navy. And Japan's offer of a budget of $2 billion, or just under 300 billion yen, over the next three years was a surprise to the world.
"In recent years, Japan has particularly been strengthening its maritime security efforts while utilizing advanced technologies such as satellites, artificial intelligence, and unmanned aerial vehicles, and will continue to share its knowledge and experience with other countries. From this perspective, over the next three years, we will make use of technical cooperation, training, and other means conducive to strengthening the maritime law enforcement capabilities of at least 20 countries to promote efforts to train at least 800 maritime security personnel and strengthen their human resources networks. In addition, we will provide at least approximately US$2 billion in assistance, such as the provision of maritime security equipment including patrol vessels and development of maritime transportation infrastructure, to Indo-Pacific countries over the next three years. We will strengthen our support to Indo-Pacific countries, utilizing cooperation of Quad and frameworks of international organizations."
Finally, there is the matter of the deployment of the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Indo-Pacific. Dodging criticism from China that this is a revival of Japan's militarism, the PM Kishida mentions joint exercises with "Southeast Asian and the Pacific island countries". This is the result of the Micronesian Maritime Security Project, which I launched alone in 2008.
"In addition, in order to contribute to the realization of a free and open maritime order, Japan will dispatch a Maritime Self-Defense Force unit led by the destroyer Izumo to the Indo-Pacific region from June 13 and conduct joint exercises with countries in the region including Southeast Asia and the Pacific."
Now, I would like to give my philosophical background for my project - maritime security of Pacific island countries. "Higuchi Report" which was written by Prof Akio Watanabe, my MA supervisor and mentor, the first postwar Japanese security policy, which insisted "Multilateral Security Assurance Based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance" is my philosophy. I chose Micronesia as the place to move the unilateral Japan-U.S. alliance, to bilateral, or multilateral. The Japan-U.S. alliance will protect the Micronesian seas together. That is the predominant goal of my project.
Soon after I launched this project, it became a concession project of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and the Nippon Foundation, and went in the strange direction of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, which is currently being modified by the Whipps administration. But fortunately, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is now on the move and the Japan-U.S. alliance is on the move.
In 2017, when I was working to fix the Micronesian Maritime Security Project that I had started, Yohei Sasakawa jeered at me and I lost my job. He was not involved in this project in any way, so he does not know anyting. This is not a criticism. I am grateful that he was willing to entrust me with the entire project. However, there was a god of fate. I was invited to give a lecture to the Parliamentary Committee on Islands and Oceans, chaired by Keiji Furuya, a member of the House of Representatives. There, I proposed the necessity of a maritime security project for Pacific island countries within the framework of the Indo-Pacific region which Prime Minister Kishida had just announced.
In June 2017, my lecture inspired the Parliamentary Committee on Ocean Affairs to compile a proposal, which was submitted to then Foreign Minister Kishida and then Finance Minister Aso. Five years have passed since then. Foreign Minister Kishida became Prime Minister Kishida and presented my proposal to the world in Singapore, pioneered by my favorite Sir Thomas Raffles.