The Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), J. Berkshire Miller: “Tokyo is Realizing That the Indo-Pacific Region Continues to Be Challenged with a Range of Security Tensions.”

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Lately, Japan has been trying to develop military cooperation with the Indo-Pacific states. In this regard, Japan signed military cooperation agreements with India, Australia and Britain. It also plans to conclude similar agreements with Indonesia and Thailand. In addition to this, Japan offers to cooperate in the defence area with Germany and Italy, which are its partners in the G7, to increase their presence in the Pacific. All these developments make it necessary to investigate Japan’s military effectiveness in the Pacific.

From this point of view, Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) presents the views of Jonathan Berkshire Miller, The Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) and the Senior Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), to evaluate Japan’s recent military-security moves in the Pacific.

  1. How do you evaluate Japan’s first naval exercises with the Solomon Islands and Tongo and ongoing military-security interest towards the Pacific region?

Japan’s naval engagements in the Pacific is another sign that Tokyo is interested in contributing international public goods more robustly to the region, amidst growing concerns of Chinese security presence. Tokyo is not intending to replace or alter its traditional role in the Pacific – which is built on decades of diplomatic and development assistance – but is looking to work more with like-minded partners to contribute to a free and open region. This comprehensive and nuanced role is welcomed by many of Tokyo’s regional partners.

  1. Over the last few months, the number of military exercises Japan has participated in for the first time in the Indo-Pacific (for example, with countries such as the USA, Indonesia, France and Australia) has increased. How do you analyse this situation?

Tokyo is realizing that the Indo-Pacific region continues to be challenged with a range of security tensions. The war in Ukraine has magnified these risks even more. In order to uphold the rules-based order and maintain regional stability, Japan is pursuing a range of policies including increasing its defense spending, and also widening its network of defense partners in the region to complement its treaty alliance with the United States.

  1. How do you evaluate Japan’s Reciprocal Access Agreements (RAA) with a number of Pacific countries (India, Australia and also with the UK) and its agenda to sign with the new ones (Indonesia and Thailand)? Could Japan be looking to strengthen its military supply chain and tactical capabilities in the event of a possible war?

The RAA is a critical agreement that allows for smoother mil-mil cooperation and is a natural evolution from other building block agreements that traditionally come first – such as intelligence sharing and logistics/acquisition agreements. These agreements are not meant purely for conflict contingencies but also help secure Japan’s interests and increase operational exchanges.

  1. It is expected that Japan will move away from its pacifist stance with the amendment of a new National Security Strategy in the autumn. What is the reason for this tendency? In general, how does Tokyo assess the security environment in the Pacific?

It is not so much about abandoning pacifism and more about adapting to the evolving geostrategic realities in the region – which are acute and fast moving. Ahead of this year’s new NSS, Japan has to cope with a more hard-edged strategic environment marked by a new downturn in relations with Russia, continued vigilance and deterrence vis a vis North Korea, along with the sustained and long-term strategic challenge of China’s posture in the region.

Jonathan Berkshire Miller

Jonathan Berkshire Miller is an international affair professional with expertise on security, defence, intelligence and geo-economic issues in the Indo-Pacific. He has held a variety of positions in the private and public sector. Currently, he is a senior fellow with the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA). Miller is also director and senior fellow of the Indo-Pacific program at the Ottawa-based Macdonald Laurier Institute, Senior Fellow on East Asia for the Tokyo-based Asian Forum Japan and the Director and co-founder of the Council on International Policy.

Miller is a regular contributor to several academic journals, magazines and newspapers on Asia-Pacific security issues including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Nikkei Asian Review, the Japan Times and The Economist Intelligence Unit. He has also published widely in other outlets including the World Affairs Journal, Forbes, the Boston Globe the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Mainichi Shimbun, the ASAN Forum, Jane’s Intelligence Review and Global Asia.  Miller has been interviewed and quoted on Asian security and geopolitical issues across a wide range of media including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, the Globe and Mail, Le Monde, the Japan Times, Asahi Shimbun, the Voice of America and ABC news.

Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk Tamer graduated from Sakarya University, Department of International Relations in 2014. In the same year, he started his master's degree at Gazi University, Department of Middle Eastern and African Studies. In 2016, Tamer completed his master's degree with his thesis titled "Iran's Iraq Policy after 1990", started working as a Research Assistant at ANKASAM in 2017 and was accepted to Gazi University International Relations PhD Program in the same year. Tamer, whose areas of specialization are Iran, Sects, Sufism, Mahdism, Identity Politics and Asia-Pacific and who speaks English fluently, completed his PhD education at Gazi University in 2022 with his thesis titled "Identity Construction Process and Mahdism in the Islamic Republic of Iran within the Framework of Social Constructionism Theory and Securitization Approach". He is currently working as an Asia-Pacific Specialist at ANKASAM.