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Micheal asked : What could be the possible implications of India-Japan relations on India’s relations with other East Asian neighbours?

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  • Rup Narayan Das replies: Relations between any two countries, be it India-Japan or for that matter other countries, are primarily based on enlightened national interest and convergence of outlook and approach between the two countries. In recent times, the mutuality of economic interests has been one of the main drivers of the bilateral relationship. Japanese investments in India, such as, the Metro Rail Project and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, are just some examples of the robust economic engagement between the two countries. There are also possibilities for cooperation in the nuclear energy sector. It is, thus, not fair to look at the relationship between any two countries entirely through the prism of any third country.

    Relationship between India and Japan has their own imperatives. There is, however, a perception that the growing India-Japan strategic partnership may have some strategic implications for China. It is true that there is some security dilemma and strategic distrust between Japan and China, but it is equally true that there is a dialogue mechanism available between them. New Delhi on different occasions has pointed out that India-Japan strategic partnership is not aimed against any third country, least of all China. There is also a strategic partnership existing between India and China, which is not only India’s largest neighbour, but also its largest trading partner.

    India and Japan being maritime democracies, however, espouse freedom of navigation and safety and security of sea the lanes of communication. China’s assertiveness in this regard has given rise to a perception in some sections of the strategic community about the possible implications of India-Japan strategic partnership. These are challenges and one has to calibrate relationship between and among nations in such a manner so as to promote mutual trust and confidence. In the triangular relationship among India, China and Japan, there should not be any ‘zero-sum’ game of the Cold War era.