Nikkei wrote that the GOJ has stopped calling Prime Minister Abe’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” initiative a strategy and is now describing it as a “vision” in a bid to elicit support from ASEAN members, who have reportedly pressed Tokyo to use softer language if it wants their backing. Since the word “strategy” has military connotations, some ASEAN countries were reportedly hesitant to embrace the Japanese initiative because they did not want to upset the Chinese. The prime minister used the term “Indo-Pacific vision” for the first time when he held talks with his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir in Tokyo last week. Noting that the Trump administration is alarmed by China’s growing presence in the region, the daily quoted a GOJ source as saying that Tokyo will continue to use the word “strategy” when talking with Washington while using the term “vision” in talks with ASEAN nations.
In related stories, today’s Mainichi and Sankei wrote that Abe plans to visit Singapore, Australia, and Papua New Guinea this week to promote the free and open Indo-Pacific initiative aimed at establishing the rule of law and a free trade system.