On the afternoon of the 18th local time, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife Mariko opened a four-day visit to Vietnam and Indonesia.
Yoshihide Suga succeeded the Prime Minister of Japan for more than one month. This visit to the two ASEAN countries is his first diplomatic visit as a prime minister.
’S first foreign visit, the word “stable” takes the lead
Because Yoshihide Suga has long served as Chief Cabinet Secretary, Secretary of General Affairs and other “front office”, he has given the impression of “Prime Minister Abe’s Secretary” in foreign-related fields, and he has been widely questioned when competing for Abe’s successor.
During a public television debate on September 12, a host questioned him on the spot about his “lack of diplomatic experience”, which caused him to vent his rare anger. At that time, he repeatedly emphasized that “I participated in all important decisions related to foreign affairs. This makes it obvious that if Yoshihide Suga takes over, he will first “cheer up” in the diplomatic field and think that he is “justifying his name.”
As expected, when he took office, he launched the unique “phone diplomatic offensive” of the new crown epidemic era, and almost had a round of phone calls with the leaders of major countries in the world in just a few days.
On October 6, the high-profile Japan-US-Australia-India (QUAD) foreign ministers’ meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan. Although Yoshihide Suga was not the “starring player” of the Japanese side, the meeting was generally regarded as the first of the “Suga-era diplomacy”. A platform debut.
Some analysts who are familiar with Japanese diplomacy (such as Senator Masahisa Sasa from the Liberal Democratic Party, Harold, deputy director of the RAND Corporation’s Asia-Pacific Policy Center, etc.) pointed out that Yoshihide Suga’s choice of targets for his first diplomatic mission was “mainly stability”. “. To borrow a metaphor from the baseball term that the Japanese love, is to seek a “hit” first, instead of rushing to a “home run” as soon as the bench comes on.
The selection of Vietnam and Indonesia as the “first batch” among the ten ASEAN countries was also carefully calculated.
First of all, in the eyes of Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia are “significant”. The former is the rotating chairman of ASEAN this year and is also the first choice for Japan’s “supply chain diversification” government strategy. According to the “Nikkei Shimbun” poll, 15 of the 30 Japanese companies that applied for the government’s “diversification of supply chain” official subsidies chose Vietnam as the preferred investment destination for ASEAN.
Indonesia is the country with the largest population, market and market potential in ASEAN. Japan chooses to expand its relations with these two ASEAN countries, and it is easy to build consensus among all sectors of the country.
In addition, in the eyes of Japan, both Vietnam and Indonesia have different degrees of sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea with China. It is easy to have a certain “resonance” with Japan on this issue.
Vietnam and Indonesia have their own “abacus”
However, friends who are familiar with the rules of baseball know that although a “home run” is difficult, once you hit it you can get at least 1 point and at most 4 points; “hit” is relatively easy, but it may not be able to score.
Although the researcher of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore and some Japanese right-wingers believe that the three warships including the Japanese “Kaga” amphibious ship just visited the Cam Ranh International Port in Vietnam on October 10-11, Japan-Indonesia bilateral defense cooperation negotiations It has also begun, “Suga Yoshihide may focus on defense cooperation in this trip,” but more observers pointed out that the recent bilateral relations between Japan and Indonesia are actually not very harmonious, and defense cooperation negotiations can only be said to be “on the road” at best.
Sources from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also revealed that the overall policy of the new cabinet is to “avoid directly mentioning China” and “avoid the question of whether to compete with China” when talking to third countries. This visit followed Abe’s tone to talk about FOIP. , Or to create a few new terms to highlight the “Suga characteristics” should be reasonable.
What’s more, the interviewees may not be willing to follow this new prime minister completely: Whether it is Vietnam or Indonesia, which is currently worried about internal affairs, its basic position on foreign-related cooperation has always been ASEAN’s “no side selection” in recent years. Japan is not enough to allow ASEAN countries to change this effective and self-interested position.
The biggest constraint on Vietnam’s development is the domestic infrastructure that is lagging behind. Many people speculate that Yoshihide Suga’s visit to Vietnam will inevitably throw out a “gift package” to increase investment in Vietnam’s infrastructure. However, the reasons for Vietnam’s infrastructure lag are complicated. In the past 20 years, major economies have continued to “make great efforts” at no cost. Philippines, but little effect. Yoshihide Suga’s “gift package” is too small to look at, and too large is bound to cause controversy in China.
As for Indonesia, the 30 Japanese companies polled by the Nikkei Shimbun chose this country as the preferred investment location for ASEAN. The country is also more inclined to deal directly with China and the United States. In addition, the current social situation in the country is unstable. How to persuade Japanese investors to switch to this country is still a big problem.
Not long ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited five ASEAN countries. On September 27, the Ministry of Commerce of China announced the import and export data for January-June this year, showing that ASEAN has surpassed the EU and became China’s largest trading partner. Under such circumstances, Yoshihide Suga hopes to “establish Japan’s political and economic presence in this region” through this ASEAN trip, and I am afraid it will be difficult to truly “point”.