News and Events

(77) Prof. Kuni Miyake on East Asia's Geopolitical Environment

6 February 2015 – In partnership with the Japanese Embassy and the AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center, AIM ZSDM held a Dev@Work seminar entitled “The Changing Geopolitical Environment in East Asia and the Policy of Abe Administration” last January 29. The speaker for the event was Professor Kuni Miyake of the Foreign Policy Institute.


The Changing Geopolitical Environment in East Asia

The topic of the talk is how China’s maritime expansion denies freedom of navigation in the Western Pacific. According to Prof. Miyake, for the People’s Republic of China, its most prosperous and valuable resources are located on its coast, and that makes this area that is most vulnerable, with the potential threats coming from the sea. In response to these threats, China has expanded its maritime powers, challenging the Japan-US maritime interests.
 “This is not acceptable,” Professor Miyake says. To illustrate the issue, he shows that China’s missile range reaches Japan (Okinawa) and the Philippines and how this has contributed to the build up of tension in the South China Sea.
The 1991 events in the Philippines furthered the vulnerability of the area against China. Being largely anti-American during that time, the Philippines refused American bases in Clark and Subic. Following this event in 1992, China declared the South China Sea as territorial waters.
In line with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, the Americans returned on April 28, 2014 and this return strengthened rotational U.S. military presence in the region. 
This decision for rotating maritime forces came in 2011, the year of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and the U.S.-UK Operation Tomodachi. During that time, China announced the presence of two aircraft carriers in the vicinity of Japan and due to this, there could be no U.S. maritime representatives in the South China Sea.
This naval blockade poses a large problem, says Prof. Miyake. He asks: “What if there are two crises at the same time in Asia and the Middle East?” 

The Abe Administration

What the Abe administration is currently doing are mostly “old ideas” which reflect the need to maintain the status quo. This involves investing in defense and bilateral and multilateral relations focused on maintaining the stability in the region.
What can Japan do? Prof. Miyake takes the idea of an island alliance, based on the Anglo-Portuguese Relations, as a possible model for Japan. The island alliance means that if there is a small island nation close to a continent, with that small island nation being smart and hardworking but with no resources, they could be able to maximize the relationship through the following:
  • Balance of Power to avoid hegemony
  • Healthy Distance from continent; a relationship with no intervention
  • Securing the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) and free trade

There have been two successful samples of this in history:

  • Anglo-Japanese Alliance, where help from the British Embassy secured balance between Japan and Russia
  • US-Japanese Alliance

The seminar ended with a Q&A session.

Seminar Materials

The Changing Geopolitical Environment in East Asia and the Policy of Abe Administration

Event Photos (Facebook)

About the Speaker

Kuni Miyake is the President of the Foreign Policy Institute, a private think-tank in Tokyo, Research Director for foreign and National Security Affairs at Canon Institute for Global Studies and a Visiting Professor at Ritsumeikan University. In 2006-7, he was Executive Assistant to Mrs. Akie Abe in the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan. Professor Miyake passed the Foreign Service Officer's (senior class) Exam in 1977 and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 1978. From 1978-2005, he served in many capacities at MOFA. Most recently, his positions have included: Deputy Director-General of the Middle East Bureau, MOFA; Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Iraq and Japan's Representative to the CPA; Charge d'Affaires at the Embassy of Japan in Iraq, Minister at the Embassy of Japan in China; and Directors of Japan-US. Security Treaty Division, First Middle East Division and Second Middle East Division in MOFA. He graduated from the Law of the University of Tokyo. He is married with two children.

About the Development@Work Seminar Series

The AIM Zuellig Graduate School of Development Management hosts numerous talks and public lectures on different aspects of development management. These seminars and lectures are free and open to the public, unless stated otherwise. For information on future seminars, visit the News and Events section of this website or like us on Facebook (


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