Japan’s Southeast Asia Charm Offensive

A new article by Laura Southgate, a PhD student at the University of Otago, New Zealand was published in the International Policy Digest. Her piece, Japan’s Southeast Asia Charm Offensive, appeared Monday September 7, 2015 in the online publication. The article is an assessment of Japan’s strategic partnerships, both military and financial, with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In light of Japan’s increasingly sour relations with China—which Southgate explores in the first half of this piece—Japan has sought to enhance its regional ties with ASEAN nations including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. As Southgate notes, Japan’s pivot to engage the Southeast Asian nations has been welcomed, given that those same nations are “currently engaged in their own territorial disputes with China.” However, as Southgate concludes, despite the manifold public diplomacy and economic benefits of Japan’s ‘Southeast Asia charm offensive,’ Japan’s push to engage ASEAN countries is not without its risks. Southgate notes that as China and Japan stake out their claims in Southeast Asia, "regional states are left treading a precarious tightrope between the two competing powers, hoping to enhance engagement with Japan while refraining from antagonising China."

The full article is available here.

Photo by Loïc Lagarde / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0