TOKYO – The Japanese government on Tuesday welcomed the European Union’s decision to craft an Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at reinforcing the bloc’s strategic engagement in the region, where China’s rise has stoked concern among its neighbors and tensions with the United States.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference that Japan wants to boost cooperation with the EU for the stability and prosperity of the region, noting that the bloc’s policy has “many similarities” with the free-and-open Indo-Pacific initiative promoted by Tokyo.
EU foreign ministers on Monday adopted a document on the planned strategy, in which the bloc pledged to play a more active role in promoting democracy, human rights, the rule of law and international law in the region.
The document, which will serve as the foundation for the first such EU strategy for the region, said the bloc will work closely with like-minded partners to ensure its economic and political interests.
As Asia has become the major engine of world economic growth and with China’s clout increasing, France, Germany and the Netherlands have already adopted their own Indo-Pacific policies.
Outside the EU, Britain said last month in a defense review document that it should engage more heavily in the region.
The EU plans to work out its Indo-Pacific strategy by the first half of next year.