Japan’s recently released National Security Strategy document has pathbreaking commitments to strengthen Japan militarily. It reflects a dramatic change over the last decade, when the national threat for pacifist Japan was largely China. Now North Korea and Russia are included, and a Japan with superior defence capabilities will play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific.
Last month, at a hybrid meeting, the Foreign Ministers of India, the U.S., Israel, and the UAE set up a forum for quadrilateral cooperation. In the many issues discussed, the technology dimension shows the most potential for collaboration, with unique contributions of expertise and resources available from each country's tech hubs: Bengaluru, Silicon Valley, Dubai and Tel Aviv.
Should the Quad be formalized? It has evolved from a crisis response group in 2004 to a strategic partnership today between the four member-countries – India, the U.S., Australia and Japan. There are benefits and challenges to the institutionalisation of the Quad which require timely analysis, especially as the group has renewed vigour this year with the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
A noticeable feature of 2017 was China’s aggressiveness, which it deployed openly to advance its interests in the eastern rim, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. This could well be the impetus for the consolidation of a broad front of China-wary nations in 2018