Japan’s Strategic Messaging for a ‘Free and Open International Order (FOIO)’: Can It Preserve its Indo-Pacific Achievements?

Focus Asia February, 2024

The “free and open international order (jiyū de hirakareta kokusai chitsujo) based on the rule of law,” or “FOIO,” is emblematic of Japan’s overriding ideal as pursued across multiple administrations. Introduced in early 2017 following the better-known “free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP),” it became Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s major diplomatic message in 2023. Underpinned by the rule of law among nations, the FOIO represents the latest evolution in Japan’s attempt to preserve the existing international order amid the growing challenges posed by China and other authoritarian states.

Focusing on this policy trend, this paper presents the first in-depth analysis of Japan’s evolving strategic messaging from FOIP to FOIO. Importantly, it discusses the challenges and potential benefits of this shift, and emphasizes the need for Japan to balance its promotion of the FOIO without undermining the strategic value of the FOIP and its laser focus on security and stability.

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