None Achieving the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” Vision Japan Ministry of Defense’s Approach

Achieving the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” Vision
Japan Ministry of Defense’s Approach

Achieving the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” Vision Japan Ministry of Defense’s Approach

Development of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” Vision



  • In August 2016, then Prime Minister ABE unveiled the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) concept in his keynote address at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Kenya
  • Japan’s fundamental aim is to foster regional stability and prosperity by improving connectivity between Asia and Africa through a free and open Indo-Pacific region

Basic concepts of FOIP

  • The Indo-Pacific region is at the core of world vitality and is home to half the world’s population; realizing the stable and autonomous development of this region is crucial for the stability and prosperity of the world
  • The vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” has its goal to facilitate free and vigorous economic activities throughout the Indo-Pacific region and aims to realize prosperity for the entire region

Three Pillars of “FOIP”

  1. Promotion and establishment of the rule of law, freedom of navigation, free trade
  2. Pursuit of economic prosperity (e.g. improving connectivity)
  3. Commitment to peace and stability

Japan is pursuing the “Free and Open Indo Pacific” Vision through a coordinated whole-of-government approach

Characteristics of the Indo-Pacific region

  • The Indo-Pacific region is at the core of the world vitality, and home to half the world’s population
  • As many key sea lanes transit the Indo-Pacific area, regional stability is essential to Japan’s continued security and prosperity
  • On the other hand, a range of challenges exist in the region, including a rapid modernization of military forces and intensified military activities
  • Countries in the region are taking steps to respond to this rapid change in the security environment

Aspects of Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD)’s approach

  • Securing the stable use of major sea lanes by way of defense cooperation and exchange activities
  • Preventing contingencies through confidence building and mutual understanding
  • Contributing to peace and stability through engagement in the region, in cooperation with partner countries

By leveraging defense cooperation and exchange activities, Japan is creating a favorable security environment in the Indo-Pacific region, where there remains a range of security challenges

Broadening the FOIP vision


  • The U.S., Australia, ASEAN, India and European countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Netherlands, and also the European Union (EU) have announced their own regional initiatives that are consistent with Japan’s FOIP vision
  • Japan will continue to promote cooperation with all countries that endorse the vision of FOIP

Achieving the FOIP vision


  • Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD)/Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) is bolstering defense cooperation and exchanges with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. This enhanced engagement encompasses Southeast Asia, South Asia and Pacific Island Countries, in which several key sea lanes pass through; and the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, which are important for ensuring energy security
  • JMOD/JSDF actively cooperates with countries such as the U.S., Australia, India, the UK, France, Germany and other European countries, and also Canada and New Zealand, all of which share the FOIP vision and have connections to the region

As FOIP is an inclusive vision, Japan welcomes cooperation with all countries that share its values

Cooperative activities with partner countries to uphold and reinforce FOIP


United States

With the Japan-U.S. Alliance being the cornerstone, strengthening cooperation with various partners including conducting bilateral/multilateral exercises and capacity building programs to maintain and strengthen FOIP.

  • JPN-U.S. collaboration to deliver capacity building program with Vietnam in the field of underwater medicine
  • JPN-U.S. bilateral naval exercise as part of the Indo-Pacific Deployment (IPD) by JMSDF
  • SCC (JPN-U.S.) “2+2”
Japan-U.S. joint capacity building program with Vietnam (Mar 2018)
Japan-U.S. joint capacity building with Vietnam (Mar 2019)


“Special Strategic Partner” that has both the intention and ability to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region. Both Japan and Australia are allied with the U.S. and share not only fundamental values but also strategic security interests.

  • Contribute to an Australia-led capacity building exercise in Timor-Leste (Hari’i Hamutuk)
  • JPN-U.S.-AUS multilateral exercise (Cope North)
  • JPN-AUS “2+2” ministerial meeting
Hari’i Hamutuk (Sep 2021)


“Special Strategic and Global Partner” that shares universal values with Japan, as well as common interests in the peace, stability, and prosperity of Asia and the world.

  • Bilateral/multilateral exercises between all three components of their defense forces (Malabar, Daruma Guardian and Shinyuu Mitri)
  • First JPN-IND “2+2” ministerial meeting (Nov 2019)
Exercise Malabar (Nov 2020)

United Kingdom

A major power that has influence not only in Europe, but also globally, and has historically maintained close relations with Japan. Both countries share similar strategic security interests, and are important allies of the U.S.

  • JPN-UK bilateral exercise (Guardian North, Vigilant Isles)
  • Carrier Strike Group 2021, led by HMS “Queen Elizabeth”, made a port visit to Japan in 2021 and conduct several exercises (Pacific Crown etc.)
  • JPN-UK “2+2” ministerial meeting
Defense Minister KISHI’s visit to the UK aircraft carrier HMS “Queen Elizabeth” during a port visit in Japan (Sep 2021)


“Exceptional partner” who historically has had a close relationship with Japan. The only EU member state that maintains a constant military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • JPN-U.S.-AUS-FRA quadrilateral naval exercise (La Pérouse)
  • JPN-U.S.-AUS-FRA multilateral exercise (ARC21) with the ships from the French training fleet “Jeanne d’ Arc” in areas including the East China Sea (2021)
  • JPN-FRA “2+2” ministerial meeting
ARC21 (May 2021)


Partner nation that shares fundamental values and works together on issues of the international community through G7 and other areas.

  • First JPN-DEU “2+2” ministerial meeting (Apr 2021)
  • This year, Frigate “Bayern” deployed to the Indo-Pacific region and conducted an exercise with JSDF at the Gulf of Aden in August
JPN-DEU “2+2” ministerial meeting (Apr 2021)


G7 member, Pacific nation, and partner nation that shares fundamental values.

  • JPN-CAN bilateral exercise (KAEDEX20)
  • JPN-AUS-CAN trilateral exercise
KAEDEX20 (Nov 2020)

New Zealand

Important “Strategic Cooperative Partner” in the Pacific region sharing fundamental values.

  • JPN-U.S.-AUS-NZL Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) exercise (Operation Christmas Drop)
Operation Christmas Drop (Dec 2019)

Enhanced cooperation with other countries to uphold and reinforce FOIP


Southeast Asia

Contributing to the security of sea lanes, freedom of navigation and overflight in a stable South China Sea

ASEAN – collective initiatives

Japan’s defense engagement with ASEAN is guided by the “Vientiane Vision 2.0”, a commitment to enhancing defense cooperation in support of ASEAN centrality and unity

ASEAN-Japan Defense Minister’s Informal Meeting (Dec 2020)

  • Bilateral/multilateral training and capacity building programs with ASEAN members during the IPD by JMSDF
  • Professional Airmanship Program
  • Japan-ASEAN Ship Rider Cooperation Program
  • Japan-ASEAN Online Seminar on HA/DR
Japan-Indonesia goodwill exercise during IPD (Oct 2020)
3rd Japan-ASEAN Ship Rider Cooperation Program (Jun 2019)
1st Professional Airmanship Program (Jul 2019)
4th Japan-ASEAN Seminar on HA/DR (Online) (Apr 2021)

ASEAN countries – bilateral initiatives


  • Second Japan-Indonesia “2+2” was held in March 2021, and Defense Minister KISHI witnessed the signing of the Agreement concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology
JPN-IDN “2+2” meeting (Mar 2021)


  • During Defense Minister KISHI’s visit to Vietnam (Sept 2021), the Agreement concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology between the two countries was signed
JPN-VTN Defense Ministerial Meeting (Sep 2021)


  • Japan-Singapore Defense Ministers’ VTC (Dec 2020)
JPN-SGP Defense Ministerial VTC (Dec 2020)


  • Constant participation in the “Cobra Gold” (multilateral exercise hosted by Thailand and the U.S. )


  • First overseas transfer of finished defense equipment (contract to deliver warning and control radar concluded)




  • Capacity building program in the field of PKO (engineering)


  • Capacity building seminar on HA/DR (online)


  • Japan-Malaysia goodwill exercise
JPN-MYS goodwill exercise (Apr 2021)


  • Japan-Brunei Defense Ministers’ VTC (May 2021)
JPN-BRN Defense Ministerial VTC (May 2021)

South Asia

  • Capacity building program in the field of air rescue with the Sri Lanka Air Force
  • Participation of a JMSDF destroyer in multilateral exercise “AMAN 21” hosted by the Pakistan Navy
  • Promoting JSDF port calls and aircraft visits to secure a stable and safe Indian Ocean region (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Bangladesh)
Multilateral exercise “AMAN 21” hosted by Pakistan navy (Feb 2021)
Japan-Sri Lanka capacity building program (air rescue) (May 2021)

Pacific Islands

Contributing to the security of sea lanes and building mid-to long term relations with defense officials

  • Hosted the first-ever defense ministerial level multilateral meeting: Japan Pacific Islands Defense Dialogue (JPIDD)
  • Capacity building program with the PNG Defence Force (military band training and HA/DR (heavy equipment maintenance training))
  • Promoting JSDF port calls and aircraft visits (Operation Christmas Drop, IPD2021)
JPIDD (online) (Sep 2021)
Supporting the training of the PNG military band (Sep 2021)

Middle East / Africa

Contributing to the security of sea lanes and building mid-to long term relations with defense officials

  • Actively contributing to multilateral security councils in the Middle East, such as the Japan Defense Minister’s inaugural participation in the IISS Manama Dialogue (Nov 2019, Bahrain), at which then Defense Minister KONO spoke about Japan’s efforts to maintain the international maritime order based on the rule of law
  • Promoting defense equipment and technology cooperation in the Middle East
  • Promoting JSDF port calls and airport visits in order to secure regional stability
  • Capacity building program with Djibouti with a focus on reinforcing disaster management skills
Capacity building program (reinforcing disaster management skills) with Djibouti (Oct- Dec 2019)
Japan-UAE Defense Ministers’ VTC (Mar 2021)

Latin America

Building mid-to long term relations with defense officials

  • Signed the Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges with Brazil, adding to similar memorandum with Colombia

Japan-Brazil Defense Ministers’ Video Teleconference and the Signing Ceremony of the Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges (Dec 2020)

Development of Capacity Building


Capacity building programs

Capacity building programs aim to improve the capabilities of recipient countries, and to help their military forces broaden the roles they can play in order to further contribute to international peace and regional stability.

Specific activities: ♦ Seminars and field training ♦ Opinion exchanges and provision of technical guidance ♦ Observation of education and training programs

Development and achievements to date

The JMOD/JSDF began to provide capacity building for military forces in the Indo-Pacific region in 2012. Since then, more than 700 JSDF personnel have deployed as trainers, and about 5,400 foreign personnel have received capacity building training.
Japan is also cooperating with partner countries, such as the U.S. and Australia — that possess diverse capabilities — to effectively implement capacity building programs.

Scope continues to grow

Capacity building activities


Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR)

HA/DR program with ASEAN member states (since 2018)

Promotes multinational cooperation in response to large-scale disasters through seminars, table top exercises, and observation of HA/DR drills.

Cyber Security

Cyber security project with Vietnam (2017, 2019, 2020)

Promotes the cyber security capability of Vietnam to effectively respond to cyber incidents through seminars and practical exercises.

Peacekeeping Operations

PKO (civil engineering) training project with Mongolia (2014-2019, 2021)

Enhances the Mongolian military’s capacity in the field of road construction, an essential skill for future deployments to PKO missions

Maritime Security

Air rescue project with Sri Lanka (2019, 2020 and 2021)

Enhances the Sri Lankan Air Force’s overwater air rescue capacity by providing technical advice and jointly drafting a search and rescue manual.

Cooperation with
Pacific Island Countries

Military band training project with Papua New Guinea (2015-2019, 2021)

Contributes to the success of the PNG Defence Force Military Band through technical guidance in the areas of musical performance and production

Joint activity with U.S.,
Australia in Timor-Leste

HA/DR (civil engineering) training project with Timor-Leste (since 2012)

Enhances Timorese forces’ capacity by providing engineering training at the Australia-led Hari’i Hamutuk, while building ties with other partners (U.S., New Zealand).

Defense Cooperation and Exchange during the COVID-19 pandemic


Conducted ministerial-level meetings with 26 countries
(green highlight) and NATO from Apr 2020 to Mar 2021.

  • Although in-person visits to various countries have become difficult since the spread of COVID-19, defense cooperation and exchanges have been actively conducted through methods such as high-level telephone talks and video teleconference, bilateral/multilateral maritime exercises which do not involve contact with other people, and capacity building through online education.
  • It has been pointed out that strategic competition may become more exposed and intense among countries intending to create international and regional orders more preferable to themselves and to expand their influence. Japan will promote defense cooperation and exchanges to uphold and reinforce FOIP in cooperation with other nations with which we share values and interests.
Defense Minister KISHI delivered a speech at the European Parliament (virtual format) (Jun 2021)
The first capacity building program held online (Cambodia) (Feb 2021)

National Defense Program Guidelines for FY2019 and beyond (extract)


Japan’s Basic Defense Policy

  • Japan, with respect to national security, will identify national defense objectives and the means to achieve them, and proactively and strategically promote measures with added variety
  • Japan creates a security environment desirable for Japan, deters external threats, and surely deals with those in the case those confront Japan, by synthesizing Japan’s overall defense capabilities even in peacetime
  • In order to achieve Japan’s defense goals, Japan will strengthen each of the following means: Japan’s own defense architecture for national defense; the Japan-U.S. alliance; and security cooperation

Strengthening Security Cooperation

  • In line with the vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”, Japan strategically promotes multifaceted and multilayered security cooperation, taking into account characteristics and situations specific to each region and country
  • As part of this, Japan employs defense capabilities actively, and conducts defense cooperation and exchanges, including bilateral training and exercises, defense equipment and technology cooperation, capacity building program, service-to–service exchanges

Security cooperation is one of the three means for achieving Japan’s defense objectives

Japan is enhancing its security cooperation activities to better achieve FOIP

National Security Strategy
Medium Term Defense Program (FY2019 – FY2023)
Medium Term Defense Program (FY2019 – FY2023)


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