The First Track II Dialogue among India, Japan and South Korea was held in IDSA on 29 June 2012. This trilateral initiative was conceptualised in a meeting involving the Ambassador of Japan to India, Mr Akitaka Saiki, Ambassador of South Korea Mr. Kim Joong-Keun and Joint Secretary, East Asia in Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Mr. Gautam Bambawale. It was also mentioned in the joint statement between India and South Korea during the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Seoul in March last year. The core idea behind the trilateral initiative was that the three countries enjoy a strategic partnership based on shared values of democracy, strong economic linkage and common strategic interests. The track-II dialogue was supported by the Ministry of External Affairs and was organized under the aegis of Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, IDSA. Five scholars each from Tokyo Foundation of Japan and Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS) of South Korea participated in this dialogue and presented their research.
Setting the tone of the deliberation, Mr. Sanjay Singh, Secretary East, MEA said, “We seek a peaceful and secure Asia free from the threats of terrorism, proliferation, piracy and conflicts between states. There is a common commitment to maintaining freedom of the seas, combating terrorism and promoting inclusive economic growth. India, Japan and ROK depend heavily on the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs) for their energy security.” He also added that he expected the trilateral to “generate ideas that would influence the wider relationship existing amongst the partners at governmental level and at the people-to-people level and develop a shared understanding on how we view our region and the emerging Asian architecture. This impact will be good measure of the success of this process.”
Welcoming the delegates, Dr. Arvind Gupta, DG, IDSA, stated that the three countries should come together to stimulate new ideas and thoughts to bring about better coordination and cooperation for peace and development for the region as well as the world at large. He further said that at present, the three countries are facing challenges of rapidly changing geopolitical environment and the emergence of new security threats, both at regional as well as global levels. He added that a sustained dialogue among the three countries is extremely important and the Track II seminar will be instrumental in stimulating some ideas to carry forward such a dialogue. H.E. Mr. Akitaka Saiki, Japanese Ambassador to India said that the three countries, with second, third and fourth highest GDPs in Asia and their active membership of the G-20, have a great responsibility, individually and collectively, towards the region and the world at large. H.E. Mr. Kim Joong-Keun, South Korean Ambassador to India, lauded the initiative to hold dialogue among the states and hoped that the Track II dialogue would soon be transformed into Track I dialogue.
Participants suggested various issues for future deliberation on trilateral cooperation. Maritime security cooperation, especially piracy in Indian Ocean Region can be discussed. Japan, India and South Korea can play a constructive role in creating a consensus on the freedom of navigation in the context of South China Sea.
It was opined that issues related to terrorism and cyber security can be also be discussed in future dialogue. The three countries could also share each other’s strategic view, for example scenario-making process aimed at understanding the future developments on their respective socio-economic-political spheres.
The general view was that issues such as energy security, transnational crimes including drug trafficking, arms smuggling etc could be explored. Prospects at the signing of a Trilateral Search and Rescue Agreement among India, Japan and South Korea could also be discussed.
Social security issues can be an important area of cooperation. Public health can also be an important area of cooperation. Cooperation in the field of Science and Technology including space could be an important issue of discussion.
Global governance issues like reforms of the UN Security Council, IMF and WTO can also be discussed and debated. Future dialogue should come out with some suggestions regarding how to promote trade and investment among the three countries. Conduct of joint research projects among the three institutes representing the three countries.
Report prepared by Dr. Shamshad Khan