By Gabriela Wurst for YCAPS
On Saturday, January 20th, Professor Kei Hakata of Seikei University delivered a thought-provoking seminar in Okinawa on Japan’s push for a “Free and Open International Order (FOIO)” and its strategic messaging towards the Indo-Pacific and beyond. His talk covered the significance of this diplomatic message, the challenges in promoting such a vision and where it stands with regards to the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)”. Attendees from numerous professional backgrounds and nationalities participated in the reception, seminar and Q&A session that followed.
Professor Hakata’s talk began by addressing the usage of the phrase “Free and Open International Order” in recent times by the Japanese government as seen in official documents, speeches and pieces in the media. He delved into its origins, as well as the values and goals associated with the strategic messaging.
Professor Hakata explained the correlation between FOIO and FOIP, particularly regarding the difference in scope of each one. The former is broader, while the latter focuses particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. Among other advantages recognized by Professor Hakata, FOIO has the potential of reaching beyond the Indo-Pacific, as well as engaging countries of the Global South outside of this region. Among other items, the speaker addressed a potential issue but also synergies between FOIO and FOIP.
During the Q&A, there was a question about the what the FOIO means in terms of actions and if there is a reprioritization of focus that comes along with it. Likewise, audience members were curious about the relations between FOIO and Official Security Assistance, if there was a unique Okinawa perspective on FOIO, as well as any dynamics we might see within Japan’s governing coalition regarding FOIO, among other topics.
Professor Hakata specializes in international politics and security affairs. Before joining Seikei University, he worked at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His publications include Indo-Pacific Strategies: Navigating Geopolitics at the Dawn of a New Age (co-edited with Brendon J. Cannon, Routledge, 2021). This publication is available in English and Japanese.