India-Japan Relations

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  • Shinzo Abe’s Visit to India: Reviewing the Strategic Partnership

    Japanese prime minister Abe realises that solely relying on the US-Japan security alliance might not serve national interest in the fast evolving regional security architecture. So the leadership is diversifying its options and strengthening cooperation with countries like India and Australia.

    February 27, 2014

    Anudeep asked: How India-Japan relations can counter-balance Chinese assertions in the Asian theatre?

    Rup Narayan Das replies: India-Japan relationship has its own economic, political, and strategic imperatives, and should not be seen through the prism of containing China. As of now, India has received approximately US$15 billion in FDI from Japan. This accounts for about 7 per cent of the total FDI in India. Besides, there are more than 1,000 Japanese companies who have their offices in India. Also, India has been the largest recipient of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). Japanese companies are household names in India, be it automobiles or consumer durables. India’s infrastructural development projects of about $1 trillion, the prospect of High Speed Railways, and the recent decision to permit FDI in the railways, offer excellent win-win opportunities to both India and Japan.

    China’s assertiveness in the Asian theatre is certainly an issue which India and Japan cannot ignore. Both India and Japan would like to engage China for regional peace and stability, and to create and support a more balanced regional architecture. The defence cooperation between India and Japan should help in facilitating peace and stability in the region. A geo-strategic equilibrium in the Asia-Pacific region is in the interest of all the stakeholders as far as maritime security, freedom of navigation and energy security are concerned.

    For more on the subject, please refer to my following publication:

    The China Factor in India-Japan Relations,” China Brief, Jamestown Foundation, 14 (2), January 24, 2014.

    Posted on February 03, 2014

    India-Japan Relations: New Opportunities

    The Emperor of Japan and his wife are visiting India. 60-years ago they had laid the foundation stone of India International Centre. The visit will further strengthen India-Japan strategic partnership in the backdrop of major global and regional geopolitical shifts, particularly the rise of China; the US policy of ‘rebalancing’ and “pivot to Asia;” and maritime security challenges in the Indian and Pacific Oceans

    November 29, 2013

    Digvijay Singh asked: What is the strategic significance and implications of Indian prime minister’s recent visit to Japan?

    Shamshad Ahmad Khan replies: As part of annual summit level talks with Japan, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Tokyo (May 27-30, 2013) and held talks with his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As a result of this visit, both the countries agreed to further strengthen their naval cooperation to safeguard the sea lanes of communication, the lifeline of their economies. Both sides agreed that they would hold an annual Maritime Affairs Dialogue to strengthen their maritime cooperation. Japan has also offered to sell the domestically manufactured US-2 amphibian aircraft to India. If the deal materialises, the Indian Navy can use it for both rescue and reconnaissance purposes. There has been some headway on Japan-India nuclear cooperation front as well. Both the prime ministers agreed that they would expedite the process of finalising an agreement in this regard.

    At the economic cooperation front – an integral aspect of the India-Japan strategic partnership - Japan has agreed to further invest in the infrastructure development projects in India. It was agreed during the summit level talks that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will get 26 per cent equity in Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC). The cost of the DMIC project has been estimated up to US $90 billion, quarter of the cost would be funded by Japan. Similarly, Japan has agreed to provide loan worth 71 billion yen for Mumbai Metro Line III project and 17.7 billion yen for campus development project of IIT Hyderabad. Japan has also shown interest in developing the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC).

    India needs about $1 trillion for infrastructure development which would require larger public investment and public-private partnerships (PPP) during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). Japan is likely to be one of the major contributors.

    It was also announced that the Japanese Emperor and Empress would be making their first-ever visit to India end of this year.

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

    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.

    Aravind Devanathan asked: Why has India restricted the two-plus-two dialogue with Japan only?

    Shamshad Ahmad Khan replies: A close look at the functioning and outcomes of the existing two-plus-two dialogue mechanism comprising ministries of defence and foreign affairs suggest that this mechanism sets the agenda for a summit level interaction between the leaders of the two states. The two-plus-two dialogue mechanism is between countries which have institutionalised annual dialogue or at least a regular dialogue between the political heads of the two states. The US has institutionalised a regular bilateral dialogue with Japan and Australia whereby a summit level meeting between the US president and the Japanese prime minister and the US president and the Australian prime minister is a regular feature. Both Japan and Australia also have similar summit level interaction between them on a regular basis. The two-plus-two dialogue comprising ministries of defence and foreign affairs discusses issues of bilateral cooperation threadbare and identifies new areas of cooperation, which are generally finalised later at the summit level interactions between the political leadership of the two states.

    India and Japan too have an institutionalised annual summit level dialogue between the prime ministers of the two countries. It has been taking place annually since 2007, alternatively in New Delhi and Tokyo. The two-plus-two dialogue comprising India’s defence and foreign secretaries and their Japanese counterparts takes place annually before the interaction of the two prime ministers. The dialogue sets the agenda of their talks and issues of bilateral agreements to be signed between the two countries. Since India currently has an annual summit level interaction with Japan only, the two-plus-two dialogue too remains limited to Japan. If India formalises such summit level dialogues with other countries on an annual or a regular basis, perhaps, a similar mechanism would be required.

    Karthik asked: How is Japan an indispensable partner in India’s quest for stability and peace in Asia?

    Shamshad Ahmad Khan replies: India and Japan, two major democracies in Asia, have been cooperating with each other in various multilateral, regional and bilateral forums. This cooperation is based on shared values of freedom, democracy and rule of law. Both the countries, ever since the institutionalisation of prime ministerial level annual summit meetings in 2006, have enhanced their cooperation in economic and security fields.

    A close look at the joint statements issued by the prime ministers of the two countries over the years, suggest that their objective is to preserve peace and prosperity in the region by sustaining economic growth. Apart from forging complementary economic relations by signing Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which is expected to propel economic growth in both the countries, they are cooperating with each other on maritime affairs as well. Both India and Japan heavily depend on sea lanes for their inbound and outbound trade. They adhere to “freedom of navigation” and unimpeded commerce based on principles of international law. They believe that hindrance in the flow of their goods would adversely impact their economy and over all prosperity. However, the quest for stability and peace is not uni-dimensional. Japan considers India an important and an equal partner in its effort to maintain peace and stability in Asia.

    India-Japan Strategic Partnership

    Japan’s endorsement of India’s candidature for the four major multilateral export controls regimes seems to be the principal achievement of the Indian PM visit to Japan.

    June 11, 2013

    Is the Return of Shinzo Abe Good News for India?

    With Abe taking a nationalistic stance and confronting China over the Senkakus, India-Japan cooperation could suffer since it does not seem to be in India’s interest to confront China.

    January 08, 2013

    The Return of Shinzo Abe as Japan’s new PM: What does it mean for India?

    With China increasingly wary of the developments taking place on its Pacific seaboard, it would perhaps be in a much better frame of mind to listen to Indian concerns.

    December 19, 2012