New Challenges to Japan’s Indo-Pacific Vision: COVIDtivity and the 2020s ‘Kindleberger Moment’
Connectivity infrastructure and its financing, as well as relevant regional visions and initiatives have consistently prominently figured in Japan’s diplomacy and development cooperation in the post-World War 2 and the post-Cold War periods. Following the emergence of the Indo-Pacific Vision, Japan’s international infrastructure initiatives came to the fore of this agenda. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, altered the connectivity landscape of the 2010s and affected global and regional connectivity in diverse ways, through dis-connectivity and re-connectivity: by disrupting and reshaping global value chains, affecting people’s mobility, and incentivizing state actors and commercial actors to readjust their approaches to connectivity, infrastructure, and finance. The crisis also created an additional opportunity for major powers to compete and cooperate in the exercise of providing public goods. This paper will examine the evolving role of connectivity infrastructure and finance in Japan’s development cooperation and its diplomacy vis-à-vis Asian and Eurasian countries in the COVID-19 pandemic environment of the early 2020s. Furthermore, this analysis will seek to test the applicability of Charles Kindleberger’s theories on concessional lending and the “stabilizer” role of major powers to the field of COVID-era connectivity with a particular focus on Asia.
This paper was published on the website of European University Institute.