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JINF delegation’s interactions with IDSA scholars

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  • December 13, 2010

    On 13 December 2010, a delegation from the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals (JINF) visited IDSA for an interaction. The delegation was led by Ms. Yoshiko Sakurai, President of JINF, and included an eclectic mix of academics from Japan including Prof. Yoichi Shimada (Professor of International Politics at the Fukui Prefectural University) and Mr. Yuniro Oiwa (Planning committee member of the JINF), among others. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Rajaram Panda, Senior Fellow at IDSA.

    The session lasted close to two hours, and covered a range of issues on the political and economic future of East Asia. Scholars from both sides put forward their views on the issue of Chinese political posturing in the region, the role of China as a vital part of the economic architecture of the region and the world, and the need to nurture norms for conduct so that the Asian neighbourhood feels at greater ease with a rising China. Two parallel views emerged in the discussions. One spoke of efforts to form partnerships between countries adhering to common values, with a view to countering the growing influence of China and its assertiveness. The other pointed to the need to co-opt China into the larger processes and shaping of norms in a multi-lateral sense. The viewpoints highlighted the concerns shared by both sides, and members within each side, reflecting a diversity that made for a balanced sharing of perspectives on this vital issue. The latest Chinese posture, the Japanese side opined, is that China is speaking harshly and carrying a big stick and this is a matter of concern. They saw China’s rise as “disturbing” and that China is an “irresponsible stakeholder”.

    The two sides were very keen to improve the nature of the India-Japan relationship including at the level of political understanding and the bigger role envisaged for India as a target for Japanese investments. The Japanese side mentioned that the Japanese investment destination has clearly shifted from China and towards India. The idea of drawing on historic ties and civilizational values to further shape the future course of relations was stressed in equal measure. Initiatives to improve the flow of religious tourism, exchange of scholars from both sides, realization of projects such as the Nalanda University as a centre of education, development assistance and overall increase of investments into India were discussed.

    The key topics covered included:

    1. China and the territorial dispute over Senkaku islands
    2. Japan’s need for reform of its constitution and a structured armed force to deter miscalculation by other actors
    3. The need for India and Japan to develop bilateral ties further, and particularly explore avenues of cooperation at the level of think-tanks
    4. The need for understanding outstanding issues in the Japan-Russia relationship
    5. The role of America in the region as a vital presence to deter miscalculation of resolve and intention by key actors. The Japanese side said that previous US administrations had pursued both engagement as well as hedging policies towards China at the same time. The Obama administration has changed that and has opted for a hedging strategy in order to strengthen US forces in East Asia.

    The meeting ended on the note of further developing this partnership. The delegates, having come to India on their maiden visit, found the atmosphere of frank and open discussion on a range of sensitive issues to be very useful. Most poignant was the desire expressed by the Japanese side that the visit should have been coordinated in the years gone past, and that therefore the relationship should now receive greater support to foster discussion on areas of mutual concern between vibrant democracies such as India and Japan.