Japan, the Indo-Pacific, and the “Quad”
This brief analyzes the 2017 ASEAN summit where four of the region’s major maritime democracies discussed the revival of quadrilateral cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in November 2017, officials from the US, Japan, India, and Australia met to discuss the revival of quadrilateral cooperation among four of the region’s major maritime democracies. Japan chaired the meeting, focusing on the theme of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” This refrain, which also has been adopted by the Trump administration, echoed language from Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s visit to India two months prior. Tokyo has emerged as the biggest cheerleader for the “quad,” asserting its leadership and pressing other partners to embrace the new framework. What are the motivations that drive Japan’s enthusiasm for this “mini-lateral” initiative? Can Tokyo, with its own limitations, remain a driving force behind the concept and operation?