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‘India-Pacific’ becomes Trump’s choice of word in his Asia trip

‘India-Pacific’ becomes Trump’s choice of word in his Asia trip

Posted November. 06, 2017 07:59,   

Updated November. 06, 2017 08:21

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“India-Pacific” has seemingly become a word that the U.S. administration prefers over “Asia-Pacific” as evidenced by several remarks before and during President Donald Trump’s maiden Asia trip. Trump mentioned “India-Pacific” in his speech at the Yokota air base in Japan Sunday, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster also said at a briefing Thursday that “Since taking office, Trump has placed 43 calls to India-Pacific leaders.” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also mentioned “India-Pacific” 15 times on Oct. 18 in his remark to stress the expansion of the strategic relationship between the United States and India.

“A free and open India-Pacific,” a concept which replaces “Asia-Pacific” of the former Obama administration, was first suggested by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his keynote speech at the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development held in Nairobi, Kenya in August last year. It is a strategy based on the robust U.S.-Japan alliance to develop the India-Pacific region including India and Australia into a place that embraces values such as a free market economy and democracy to contain China’s ambition to increase its presence in the Indian Ocean.

Japanese media outlets reported that the two leaders will announce this “India-Pacific” approach as a joint diplomatic strategy at the bilateral summit on Monday. President Trump reportedly plans speak about a free and open India-Pacific initiative at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit Friday in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, at the bilateral summit on Monday, President Trump and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe are likely to discuss how to evacuate Japanese citizens in South Korea in the event of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Sunday. There are about 60,000 Japanese and more than 200,000 U.S. citizens in South Korea, and the Japanese government hopes to use transport by the U.S. military stationed in South Korea as the basis of its evacuation plan, according to the newspaper.

The Yomiuri Shimbun added that the Japanese government wants to use Maritime Self-Defense Forces transport vessels and other means for transportation to Japan from Busan and other locations in South Korea, but as Seoul is negative about Self-Defense Forces activities within its soil, there are no prospects for realizing this idea. For that reason, the Japanese government will expect the United States to urge South Korea to accept the Japanese request, the newspaper reported.



Young-A Soh sya@donga.com