Tokyo should use its influence to sway countries sitting on the fence over the Ukraine war
- Apr 15, 2022
Many governments in Asia remain ambivalent about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Japan, in contrast, has been full-throated in its support for the besieged country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has applauded Tokyo, telling the Japan’s Parliament that “You were the first in Asia to put real pressure on Russia to restore peace.” Tokyo should use its influence and its political capital to persuade countries sitting on the fence to join it and support a global order that is under attack.
There are multiple reasons that governments in Asia and elsewhere have refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For some, there is anxiety about taking sides in a geopolitical contest between the West and Moscow (and China). There are doubts about the degree to which Western positions reflect Asian values and interests. And, on a more banal but perhaps most important level, there are concerns about jeopardizing access to Russia arms or energy exports.
Japan enjoys great credibility in Asia and might be able to convince those governments to change their policies. Polls regularly show that Tokyo is the most trusted external partner among Asian elites. This is the product of concerted efforts by Japanese politicians to cultivate regional partners.
Southeast Asia is at the core of the vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” that has guided Japanese foreign policy for a decade. Southeast Asian governments’ support is seen to be critical in the geopolitical competition with China, and Japan’s prime ministers have made those capitals priority destinations as they woo their counterparts and their publics.
While an ally of the United States and the only non-Western member of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, Japan has nevertheless retained its own perspective on global issues and acts to protect its national interests and values. It is by no means a Western or U.S. puppet.
READ FULL ARTICLE : Japan must lead Asia to the side of law and order | The Japan Times