Indo-Pacific has become a significant theme of discussion this past decade. This is caused by the rising awareness that the Indian Ocean is not less important than the Pacific Ocean. Therefore many states have developed the new regional perspective to cover both seas and the countries within it. One of them is Japan that specifically addresses their concern in this issue through Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) Strategy. To have a thorough discussion on FOIP, Mission of Japan to ASEAN in collaboration with Research Center for Politics-Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) held an academic exchange of views on April 4, 2018. This symposium is the second event after the successful "Contribution of Japan-Indonesia Relation to Further Development of ASEAN" that discuss Japan-Indonesia bilateral relation as well as the regional implication back in 2017.
Opening the discussion on FOIP, Dr. Tri Nuke Pudjiastuti, Deputy Chairman of Social Sciences and Humanities-LIPI suggested that Indonesia and Japan have to maintain their good relation as both have the important role in building the Indo-pacific paradigm in the region. HE Kazuo Sunaga, Ambassador Mission of Japan to ASEAN, also expressed a similar perspective. Regarding Indo-Pacific, he stated that this symposium is a good opportunity to better understand the view of both sides.
In this symposium, there are two keynote speakers. First, was Dr. Yuichi Hosoya, Professor of International Politics from Faculty of Law, Keio University. Dr. Hosoya explained that we have been having several problems in this region such as the unpredictability of Trump foreign policy, the rapid expansion of Chinese military power, spreading of nationalism and populism, and declining of liberal international order. In facing these problems, countries in the Indo-Pacific region must build a strategy to ensure the region will continue to grow. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the potential by connecting the two seas, Indian and the Pacific Ocean. Such focus can ensure the positive development in the region regardless the problem that occurs.
The second keynote speaker was Prof. Dr. Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Senior Researcher, Research Center for Politics, Indonesian Institute of Sciences. Prof. Anwar explains the importance of Indo-Pacific economically and politically. She stated that while both seas, Indian and Pacific Oceans, are the lifelines of the international economy, but only the Pacific Ocean has been highlighted due to the several major powers and disputes in East Asia Region. Professor Anwar precedes her speech by pointing out several political developments within the region such as China's effort to expand its influence and the counter-effort by the United States. Despite those dynamics, ASEAN must play a central role in promoting regional cooperation, as ASEAN itself has the platform such as ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and East Asia Summit (EAS) that can be utilized to develop a stronger bond between countries in this region.
Following the keynote speakers, three panelists enriched the discussion. From Dr. Julia Luong Dinh, Senior Researcher of the Centre for Major Power Studies, Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam that emphasized the importance of interpreting FOIP and its relation with other connectivity master plan. Dr. Tang Siew Mun who is the Head of ASEAN Studies Centre, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore urged to have an open discussion on what Indo-Pacific means for all the actors. Lastly, Mr. Masataka Fujita, the Secretary-General of ASEAN-Japan Centre explains the significance of Indo-Pacific and ASEAN through the perspective of Global Value Chain.
The symposium was ended with a productive discussion session. Participants from various academic backgrounds shared their view and concern on regarding FOIP and current regional dynamics. Closing the event, Dr. Firman Noor, the Head of Research Center for Politics-Indonesian Institute of Sciences hoped that the discussion would enhance the awareness among us about the significant contributions of Japan-ASEAN friendship and cooperation in building Indo-Pacific perspective. (Khanisa)