Japanese Assistant Secretary and International Press Division Director Naoaki Kamoshida said that Japan is not targeting any country in its recent feat in the region as part of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” push.

In a press briefing, Kamoshida told the Times that Japan is ready to coordinate with any country in the region but said the initiatives are not intended to counter any nation.

“We are not targeting specific country but as I said, the Japanese government is pushing for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kamoshida said.

Japan, United States, and Australia have been openly promoting a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” a move perceived to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

Although Tokyo had kept the word China out of its rhetoric in the promotion of the Indo-Pacific strategy, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo made a bold statement during his recent meeting with the leaders of the Freely Associated States (FAS) in the Federated States of Micronesia that “China seeks to engage and to influence” in the Pacific.

Pompeo said that sustained economic aid to the island nations through the US’ opening of negotiation to extend expiring Compact of Free Association (COFA) agreement with the FAS sustains “democracy and human rights in the face of Chinese attempts to redraw the Pacific in its authoritarian image.”

Pompeo even said that leaders of the FAS understood that partnerships with democratic countries such as Japan, US, and Australia “are the best partnerships for people that will continue to make their lives better in the years and decades ahead.”

Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, in a press conference in Palau on August 6, said that Japan will increase its commitment in the Pacific islands for the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision and will promote new initiatives focused on maritime security.   (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)