July 10, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Shinzo Abe Invented the ‘Indo-Pacific’

He broadened the world’s view of Asia, much to the consternation of the Chinese Communist Party.
July 10, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Shinzo Abe Invented the ‘Indo-Pacific’

He broadened the world’s view of Asia, much to the consternation of the Chinese Communist Party.

Excerpt

President Trump visited Asia in November 2017. In Vietnam, he delivered a speech declaring a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” It signified a shift in the language leaders use to describe the world’s most populous region.

Mr. Trump actually borrowed the phrase from Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving postwar leader. Abe, who was killed by an assassin Friday, died knowing that his signature geopolitical vision—and the vocabulary used to describe it—has been thoroughly embraced across much of the region and beyond.

Of all the allied leaders who visited the Trump White House, none were more welcome than Abe. Leveraging their mutual love of golf, the two leaders built a friendship that provided crucial ballast to the U.S.’s Pacific alliances at a time when they were increasingly threatened by China’s militarism and America’s perennial temptation toward isolationism. By my reckoning, Mr. Trump had more conversations with Abe than with any other leader. Language was never a barrier; Abe’s favored interpreter, Takao Sunao, rendered the Japanese leader’s upbeat staccato into resonant English, even while clinging to the back of a racing golf cart.

Mr. Pottinger, a former deputy national security adviser, coordinated Asia policy at the White House, 2017-21. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, non-partisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

China Indo-Pacific