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Conference on India-Japan Cooperation in Indo-Pacific and Beyond 2025: Corridors, Connectivity and Contours

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  • December 07, 2018
    Only by Invitation
    0930 to 1800 hrs

    Venue: Auditorium, IDSA

    Programme [PDF]

    Concept Note

    Focus of the Conference

    This conference aims to examine the scope and potential of India-Japan cooperation in key infrastructural connectivity and corridors projects, which will have a lasting strategic impact in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond by the year 2025. It will examine the bilateral, trilateral and multilateral undertakings of India-Japan cooperation.

    The Context

    A striking feature of India-Japan relations is their co-envisioned “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region. Under their “Special Strategic and Global Partnership”, the two countries outlined “Vision 2025” on 12 December 2015. The major characteristic of this vision was to enhance a “deep, broad-based and action-oriented” partnership within a global framework while investing in India-Japan future-oriented partnership with a demand for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan in November 2016 and October 2018 and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India in September 2017 further endorsed this pledge.

    What does this “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific mean in context of India-Japan special and global relations? A number of bilateral understandings and agreements, from economic to political to strategic, have been the crucial pillars of India-Japan relations that have started complementing Vision 2025 in Indo-Pacific, especially their pledge to develop quality infrastructure across the region. Regionally and globally, an enhanced understanding is currently unfolding between the two countries to strengthen a rule-based international order with focus on people-to-people contacts, connectivity and plan to develop corridors while reinforcing their bilateral security and defence cooperation. Pledging a “partnership for prosperity”, the two countries intend to establish a stronger regional and global partnership through collaborative connectivity and corridor projects.

    Their common pledge to have a “partnership for prosperity” is however not free from challenges. China’s emergence as a stronger power, its unilateral infrastructural initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region, especially Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), come as a challenge to India’s and Japan’s strategic interests in the region. Donald Trump’s bilateral-oriented approach towards Asia under an “America First” approach and, notably, the United States’ withdrawal from multilateral trade negotiation contacts have posed a number of challenges for the countries in the region. Though struggling for a conclusion currently, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiation process promises to change the economic fortunes of the Indo-Pacific region with emphasis on free trade and serious economic collaboration. Smaller actors are increasingly aiming to play a critical role through trilateral and multilateral chain of contacts and configurations.

    Taking these developments into account, a number of strategic contours, bilaterally and regionally, impact and influence the India-Japan future relationship. This conference aims to review and evaluate India-Japan relationship in the current and future contexts with focus on their future-oriented partnership, mainly beyond the Vision 2025. This conference will not only review, scrutinize and analyse their ongoing cooperative partnerships in key connectivity and corridors projects but foresee the scope of this cooperation beyond 2025.

    Structure of the Conference

    The conference will have four sessions. Each session will have three presenters.

    Session I: Connectivity and Corridors: The Foreign Policy Context

    This session will focus on how infrastructural connectivity and corridors constitute the principal foreign policy contours of the major actors in Indo-Pacific. It will focus on Indian, Japanese, Chinese and American foreign policy focus on infrastructural connectivity and corridors initiatives in Indo-Pacific. It will analyse the following questions: How do the Indian, Japanese, Chinese and the American foreign policy trajectories point to their cooperative and contending perspectives on infrastructural connectivity and corridors projects in Indo-Pacific/Asia-Pacific? How can India-Japan cooperation in the areas of connectivity and corridors be strengthened by 2025 and beyond?

    Session II: Financing Projects and Policies: The Economic Context

    This session will analyse key energy connectivity and corridors projects in Indo-Pacific and their financing patterns. In particular, it will examine how key institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructural Development Bank (AIIB) and other global institutions will finance key corridors and connectivity projects, including energy projects, in Indo-Pacific. It will analyse the following questions: How is the ADB enhancing key infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific? How is the AIIB shaping the infrastructure connectivity and corridors projects? How is India-Japan Indo-Pacific infrastructural vision complemented or contended by these financing institutions? How will RCEP impact the future of Indo-Pacific infrastructure?

    Session III: Maritime Ports and Military Projections: The Security Context
    This session will critically analyse the security components of India-Japan cooperation in Indo-Pacific with emphasis on key maritime ports and military projections. It will examine main maritime ports and points in the Bay of Bengal as well as in broader Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The session will address the following questions: What are the principal maritime ports and projects in the Bay of Bengal that India and Japan could possibly cooperate with in the future? What are the prospects of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) in IOR? How will the military projections of major powers shape India-Japan partnership in times to come?

    Session IV: Interests, Investments and Infrastructure: The Bilateral Context

    This session will analyse the scope of India-Japan economic cooperation, in terms of their strategic interests and infrastructural investments. It will assess how India’s and Japan’s economic growth trajectory will shape their Indo-Pacific vision beyond 2025 in contrast to China’s emergence as an economic power house in the region. It will address the following questions: What would be the economic growth trajectory of India, Japan and China in 2025 and beyond? What would be the prospects of India-Japan, India-China and China-Japan economic contacts over the next decade or so? How will it impact the prospects of Indo-Pacific?

    Scope of the Conference

    This conference is being co-organized by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and the Japan Foundation in New Delhi. Its scope is purely bilateral, involving Indian and Japanese subject experts and policy analysts. A number of experts from Japan will participate and present their paper. On the Indian side, experts from IDSA and mainstream think-tanks and universities will participate.

    Date and Venue
    The date of the conference is 7 December 2018, Friday. The venue is IDSA Auditorium.

    Paper Presentation and Outcome
    Each speaker will present a paper of 5000-8000 words. After the conference, each presenter will be asked to revise and resubmit their paper for publication for an edited volume.