Today (23 August), Mongolian-Japanese Business Forum has taken place in Ulaanbaatar . The conference brings together business leaders from both countries to discuss trade and mutual economic development. According to a press statement, particular focus will also be directed at projects to modernize infrastructure, such as water sanitation and low-carbon mining.
Japan has undergone a bold and forward-facing shift in its foreign policy since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, demonstrating a growing willingness to assume a more assertive role in its geopolitical backyard. Recently, Japan’s government scrapped its defense policy’s sole focus on defense and began expanding its military capabilities, partly in response to China’s growing militarization in the East China Sea. The Mongolian-Japanese Business Forum indicates Japan’s clear intention to seek leverage among Mongolia’s commercial interests, which has deepened ties to Beijing through a number of infrastructure projects via China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
While Japan’s increased engagement with Mongolia will not pose an immediate threat to China’s security interests in the region, expect a more active Japan in the Indo-Pacific as Tokyo seeks to make economic inroads with key regional partners while developing strategic partnerships like the trilateral partnership with the United States and South Korea in a multi-pronged strategy to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.