pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

Maritime Issues in the Indo-Pacific: Building a Shared Vision of “Free and Open”


– 11/22/2019


Tokyo, Japan


November 21-22, 2019
Tokyo, Japan

Hosted with support from the US Embassy Tokyo
In partnership with the Yokosuka Council for Asia-Pacific Affairs (YCAPS) and the Center for Rule-making Strategies at Tama University (CRS)

Download the event program

Welcome Remarks and Kickoff

Robert Girrier – Welcome Remarks
A “free and open” Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision has been advanced by several nations over the past year in varying levels of detail. The maritime domain plays a key linking role in this vision, and as the construct evolves, several fundamental themes emerge – among them security, development and governance. How these areas relate, along with a more comprehensive articulation of the meaning of “free and open” and its reflection of shared values among the nations of the Indo-Pacific, is central to fully developing this narrative.

Session 1: Japan’s maritime capacity building

Raymond Yamamoto – Japan’s ODA and the National Security Strategy
Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) has fulfilled important foreign policy goals for Japan since the end of the Second World War. With the second Abe administration, it became apparent that ODA plays an important role in regional security issues as Japan began to provide patrol boats to littoral states in Southeast Asia through grants and loans. This presentation will address how Abe succeeded in including ODA in the national security strategy. It will also explore why Abe chose to use patrol vessels as one of the principal instruments for promoting Japan’s national security interests in the Indo-Pacific.

John Bradford – Fifty Years of Japanese Maritime Security Capacity Building Activities in Southeast Asia
Japan has sought to improve Southeast Asian maritime safety and security as an element of its foreign policy for the last fifty years. Predominantly composed of capacity building activities (CBAs), the Japanese initiatives have focused on helping Southeast Asian states maintain good order in their nearby waters. In recent years, these policies have received increased public attention given the more direct involvement of Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in efforts that were previously the exclusive domain of Japanese civilian agencies, non-governmental foundations and private interests. This presentation analyzes the evolution of Japan’s maritime security initiatives by documenting major events and offering new insights into the most important milestones and inflection points associated with that history. It also broaches what may be on the horizon for Japan’s future involvement in Southeast Asian maritime security.

Session 2: Regional responses to strategic rivalry in the Indo-Pacific

Stephen Nagy – Middle Powers priorities in the Indo-Pacific: Evolving middle power alignment
Traditionally, middle power diplomacy as practiced by Australia, Canada and arguably Japan has focused on buttressing international institutions related to human rights, environmental issues and even arms regulations. These roles were facilitated by a predictable, U.S.-led international system. In 2019, the international system looks very different. China is challenging the United States’ decades-long security architecture in what is now known as the Indo-Pacific. Specific challenges include maritime security, the openness of the emerging digital economy, and a practice of economic coercive behavior. Being allies and partners with the United States, middle powers are vulnerable in all three areas. Middle powers are aligning to adapt to these changing dynamics and retain agency and relevance as U.S.-China strategic rivalry gathers momentum.

Yoji Koda – Need for a Region-wide Multi-Domain Awareness Network
This presentation proposes construction of a Region-wide Multi-Domain Awareness Network (RWMDAN). The recent case of the missing MH-370 demonstrates that the information sharing mechanism among nations has been fatally insufficient for decades. For the nations/organizations in the region to make the best decisions for handling disturbing international events and situations, information sharing is the key to success. The development of an information sharing network supported by improved observation and surveillance capabilities of each country is extremely important.

Japan and the United States should develop an aligned strategy to help nations build a RWMDAN at the earliest opportunity. Without this, the idea of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific will be just a pie in the sky. Such a network would enable regional nations to detect disturbing marine/air activities by any nation much quicker than they can today and promptly take appropriate action.

Session 3: The expanding non-traditional security roles of navies and coast guards in the Indo-Pacific

Richard Salmons – HADR and Indo-Pacific Regional Order Building
International military cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) has become a useful illustration of Indo-Pacific regional order building in action. This takes place as states use HADR to compete for national status – by demonstrating material power, establishing diplomatic ties, and building their legitimacy. Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, the United States, Japan and Australia have made military roles in HADR a policy priority. Now, we should anticipate that China’s large new surface fleet will increasingly engage in this field, and we should ask how this will affect visions of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific.’

Jay Tarriela – The Rise of the White Hulls in Southeast Asia and Their Role in the Indo-Pacific Strategy
Coast guard organizations in Southeast Asia have emerged as the new maritime constabulary force. Given that many countries have existing naval forces, this presentation explores why coast guard organizations are being developed in Southeast Asia. How have Japan and China influenced these sovereignty-sensitive countries to create and develop their own coast guard organizations? Should the US Coast Guard be part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, and if so, in what capacity?

Session 4: Challenges in the maritime environment

Deo Onda – The Role of Scientific Endeavors in a “Free and Open” Region
This presentation will explore the current status and challenges in the contested waters in the South China Sea region and the ongoing scientific efforts and initiatives to protect, preserve and sustain such resources. Results of the recent and ongoing scientific studies in the West Philippine Sea and adjacent waters will be shared. It will also include options on how science can move forward to promote a “Free and Open” region.

Asyura Salleh – Preventing the Tyranny of the Commons: A Regional Perspective on Fishery Management
Unresolved sovereign claims in the South China Sea have impacted the long-term sustainability of the region’s fishery resources. Due to decades of poor fishing practices, fishery stocks are now significantly in decline with dangerous repercussions on the region’s political and socio-economic welfare. This presentation argues that without stronger regional coordination on fishery management, fishery resources in the South China Sea may collapse and undermine regional security. By outlining several initiatives that can be adopted at the community, national, and regional level, this presentation offers some policy solutions that can be used to protect the South China Sea’s shared fishery resources and facilitate a resolution of the territorial dispute.

Session 5: The way ahead: building a shared vision of “Free and Open”

Jeffrey Ordaniel – Reflections on Nov. 2019 Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Expert Working Group
Current approaches to maritime and territorial disputes in Asia have been insufficient in substantially improving the prospects for long-term peace and stability in the region’s maritime commons. A richer array of tools employed in a coordinated manner by like-minded states are needed for existing rules and norms to persist. In this context, Pacific Forum, in cooperation with the Government of Japan, organized the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Expert Working Group, and held its first workshop in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 13-14, 2019. The Working Group was initially composed of recognized experts on maritime law, international security, and the marine environment from Japan, North America, Australia and Southeast Asia interested in seeking consensus on actionable policy prescriptions that Japan and the United States could take, jointly and individually to boost cooperation and manage maritime tensions in the Indo-Pacific. This presentation will highlight the key findings from the Working Group’s inaugural meeting, which focused on the rule of law in the context of maritime security.

Kazumine Akimoto – US-Japan Maritime Security Cooperation to Secure a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”
How to promote and maintain the vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” should be considered against the backdrop of a globalizing security environment. In particular, we should pay attention to the paradigm shift of classical geopolitics brought about by the melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. The presentation offers an idea of how the United States and Japan should cooperate in maritime security, considering a new geopolitical figure that takes the Indo-Pacific as a geographical pivot.