3 February 2015
Author: André Asplund, EIJS
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems to be interested in breaking with traditional Japanese diplomacy by emphasising the need to strengthen democracy and human rights in ASEAN. But will Abe be able to promote the strengthening of these values over strategic cooperation?Over 40 years after the establishment of the ASEAN–Japan Dialogue, Japanese official development assistance (ODA) underpins Japan’s relationship with Southeast Asia, having helped build vital infrastructure as well as build new opportunities and markets for Japanese businesses. Japanese trade with ASEAN, facilitated by said ODA, has surpassed that of both the US and the EU, and is now exceeded only by trade with China.
ASEAN is also increasingly important to Japan because of its potential geostrategic role in Asia, particularly with respect to a more assertive China.