The Quadrilateral alliance is a "Force for Good," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his opening remarks at the Quad summit in Tokyo on Tuesday. The event witnessed the launch of several initiatives including a maritime project that will allow tracking of “dark shipping” across the Indo-Pacific region.
"Our confidence and determination are strengthening the democratic forces. Our cooperation at the level of Quad is aimed at an inclusive Indo-Pacific region. We increased cooperation during the COVID-19 regarding vaccine delivery, climate action, supply chain resilience, disaster response," said Mr Modi.
The summit among the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States took place exactly three months after Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine which has sent shockwaves across the geopolitical system affecting energy, and food markets. Mr Modi however remained silent about the Ukraine crisis in his opening remarks.
A Joint Statement issued after the meeting addressed the concerns arising out of the crisis and said the member countries “discussed — respective responses to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis and assessed its implications for the Indo-Pacific”. One of the several “implications” of the Ukraine crisis that has been discussed since Russia launched the attack has focused on possible Chinese military moves in the Indo-Pacific region. The summit’s concerns were played out almost simultaneously as a joint patrol by the Russian and Chinese forces took place near the Japanese territories which drew global attention.
Apart from the Ukraine crisis, the leaders also took note of the post-coup crackdown in Myanmar called for the release of “all political detainees, including foreigners” and called for “swift restoration of democracy”. In this regard, they welcomed the role of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair.
"Quad has adopted a constructive agenda for the Indo-Pacific region. This will further enhance Quad's image as a Force for Good," said PM Modi. Mr Modi congratulated the newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who flew to Tokyo a day after defeating incumbent PM Scott Morrison. The leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States met in person for the second time. The first in person Quad summit was held in 2021, on the invitation of US President Joe Biden.
The leaders of the Quad countries announced the formation of the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) which will build a “faster, wider, and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in partners’ waters.”
“The benefits of this (maritime) picture are vast: it will allow tracking of “dark shipping” and other tactical-level activities, such as rendezvous at sea, as well as improve partners’ ability to respond to climate and humanitarian events and to protect their fisheries, which are vital to many Indo-Pacific economies,” a factsheet regarding the summit announced.
This common operating picture will integrate three critical regions — the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region - in the Indo-Pacific.
In close consultations with regional partners, IPMDA will offer a near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime domain awareness picture, it stated adding this initiative will transform the ability of partners in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region to fully monitor the waters on their shores and, in turn, to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Defence officials said that deliberations are underway on how the roll out of this initiative. The grouping will enhance sharing of data as part of the “Quad Satellite Data Portal” that will enhance cooperation among the satellites of the member countries.
The summit welcomed the progress made regarding the J&J vaccine production at the Biological E labs in India under the Quad Vaccine Partnership. The members also launched the “Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP) with “mitigation” and “adaptation” as its two pillars. The initiative will help green shipping and foster the idea of a “shared green corridor”. As part of the plan to increase humanitarian footprint in the region, the leaders announced the establishment of the Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the Indo Pacific region.
The Tokyo summit witnessed the launch of the Quad Fellowship that will intensify people to people contact and foster academic exchanges. Under the scheme, 100 students from the member countries will travel to the US each year to pursue graduate studies in STEM fields. First batch of Quad Fellows will begin their courses in the third quarter of 2023. The summit condemned “unequivocally terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations” and condemned the 26/11 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot attacks.