TBS’s New 23 noted last night that the launch of the 13-member Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) was perhaps more significant for the United States than Japan’s pledge to deepen bilateral cooperation on a host of issues as the number of participants, including 7 ASEAN nations, in the new U.S. economic initiative perhaps reflects Washington’s current standing in the Indo-Pacific region. As only 6 to 8 nations had initially been expected to take part in the launch ceremony, the network’s chief Washington correspondent speculated that USTR Tai and Commerce Secretary Raimondo were pleased with the higher than expected turnout. Noting that the details of the IPEF have yet to be clarified, the report said U.S. economic leadership will be tested as to whether it can make the IPEF an anti-China coalition while allowing certain ASEAN members to enjoy merits on the trade front.
Regular commentator Hoshi said the IPEF signifies a complete shift from the U.S. policy of seeking China’s democratization through allowing it to be a member of international economic frameworks, explaining that Washington is now set to ostracize Beijing economically in the face of its autocratic posturing. As China is by far Japan’s largest trade partner, the journalist argued that Prime Minister Kishida will be required to convince the public that Tokyo will take an economic approach that is fully aligned with Washington even at the risk of significantly damaging its commercial ties with Beijing.