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Abe’s Vision For An Indo-Pacific


Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the state funeral of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former Prime Minister.


GS Paper – 2: International Treaties & Agreements, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests

Main Question

“While India and Japan share an interest in keeping the Indo-Pacific open and free, bilateral cooperation remains limited.” Comment. (250 Words)

Historical ties

  • The friendship between India and Japan dates back to the visit of Indian monk Bodhisena in 752 AD and is based on spiritual affinity as well as strong cultural and civilizational ties.
  • Swami Vivekananda, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, entrepreneur JRD Tata, and freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were all prominent Indians associated with Japan in modern times.

Modern Ties

  • Post-World War II, India established diplomatic ties with Japan in 1952, marking a watershed moment in bilateral relations and setting the tone for the future.
    • A test of Japan’s dependability as a friend occurred in 1991, when Japan was one of the few countries that bailed India out of a balance-of-payments (BOP) crisis.
    • In 2006, both countries agreed to hold annual Prime Ministers’ summits.
    • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to India in January 2014, serving as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations (first ever Japanese PM to be honoured so).

Economic ties

  • In 2020, India was Japan’s 18th largest trading partner, and Japan was India’s 12th largest trading partner.
  • In fiscal year 2019-20, Japan’s bilateral trade with India totaled US$ 16.95 billion. During this time period, Japan exported $12.43 billion to India and imported $4.52 billion.
  • In addition, direct Japanese investment in India has increased, and Japan was the fourth largest investor in India in FY2020.
  • From 2000 to September 2020, Japanese investments in India totaled approximately US$ 34.152 billion.
  • The Japanese private sector’s interest in India is growing, and there are currently 1,455 Japanese companies with branches in India.
  • India and Japan have a USD 75 billion Bilateral Swap Agreement (BSA).
  • BSA is a two-way agreement in which both governments can exchange their local currencies for dollars.

Defence ties

  • India and Japan hold a bilateral military exercise known as “EX DHARMA GUARDIAN.”
  • In September 2020, India and Japan signed a key agreement for mutual supply and service provision between their defence forces. The Acquisition and Cross-Service Agreement (ACSA) will promote greater military cooperation and contribute to regional security.

Indian diaspora in Japan

There are approximately 38,000 Indians in Japan.

India-Japan Relations Issues

  • While India has the potential to become a large market for Japanese infrastructure system exports (one of the core components of Abenomics), there have been significant delays in project implementation. While the Delhi Metro Rail is a shining example, the delays with the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) are disappointing.
  • Japanese companies’ plans to establish manufacturing plants in India are hampered by significant logistical challenges and a lack of reliable power supply.
  • There is growing concern in Tokyo about rising costs caused by the Indian government’s haphazard policies, which are causing both the Japanese government and Japanese firms to become bogged down.
  • Tokyo wants its military exchanges with India to include Army and Air Force exchanges as well. An Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement – similar to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the United States, to which India has been hesitant so far. • The two countries appear to have opposing views on the current Ukraine crisis. While Japan openly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India has not.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently attended the state funeral of Japan’s former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
  • Prime Minister [Modi] acknowledged late Prime Minister Abe’s contributions to strengthening India-Japan relations as well as conceptualising the vision of a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
    • Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe coined the term “Indo-Pacific” in a speech to the Indian Parliament in 2007.
  • In July 2022, Japan’s former Prime Minister was assassinated.

An impediment to Strengthening India-Japan Ties

  • Rising Chinese Dominance: China is not afraid to exert pressure on India and Japan, including by increasing military pressure on them and opposing their permanent membership in the UN Security Council.
  • Influence of China-America Rivalry: The intensification of the Sino-American rivalry contributes to the disruption of Indo-Pacific regional security.
    • The region is militarised, and an arms race is underway; military exercises and manoeuvres are routinely conducted in disputed waters, threatening the region’s peace and prosperity, particularly for India and Japan.
  • Domestic Issues in Japan: Japan is undergoing a massive domestic debate over the revision of its national security and defence strategies, which has resulted in Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assimilation.

March 2024