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International relations

Abe softens tone on Indo-Pacific to coax China's ASEAN friends

Signature regional initiative becomes 'vision' after 'strategy' raises concern

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, first referred to the Indo-Pacific plan as a "vision" rather than "strategy" in Nov. 6 meetings with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, first referred to an Indo-Pacific "vision" rather than "strategy" in Nov. 6 meetings with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan is taking a gentler tone in describing an effort to keep Asian seas open for trade, as Tokyo tries to win over Southeast Asian countries wary of antagonizing China.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who starts a series of Asian summits this week, told government and ruling coalition officials on Monday that he intends "to work with participating countries and send a firm message to the international community toward the realization of a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific."

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