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Japan Keen to Deepen Defence Ties With India


Recently, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized that Japan views India as a crucial partner in the Indo-Pacific and is eager to foster stronger defense collaboration to enhance maritime security in the region


GS2- International Relations

Dimensions of are article:

  1. India-Japan ties
  2. Recent activities in India-Japan defence ties
  3. Way Forward

India-Japan ties

Economic Ties: A significant test of Japan’s reliability as a friend occurred in 1991 when Japan was among the few countries that provided financial support to India during its balance of payment crisis. In recent years, the economic relationship between Japan and India has grown consistently and become more profound. Bilateral trade volume has increased, and as of 2020, Japan ranked as India’s 12th largest trading partner. Moreover, there has been a notable rise in direct investments from Japan to India, with Japan ranking as the 4th largest investor in India in FY2020.

Health-Care: Recognizing the similarities and shared goals between India’s AYUSHMAN Bharat Programme and Japan’s AHWIN, both countries have engaged in consultations to identify projects that align the narrative of AHWIN with AYUSHMAN Bharat.

Investment and ODA: India has been the largest beneficiary of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loans for several decades. Notably, the Delhi Metro stands as a successful example of Japanese collaboration facilitated through ODA. Additionally, Japan has provided a soft loan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency for India’s Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project under Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP). Furthermore, Japan and India have committed to constructing a High-Speed Railways network in India, incorporating Japan’s Shinkansen System.

Defence ties:

India Japan Nuclear Deal 2016: This agreement is set to enable India to construct six nuclear reactors in southern India, thereby increasing its nuclear energy capacity tenfold by 2032.

Japan is among the select nations with which India conducts a 2+2 ministerial dialogue. The defense forces of India and Japan also coordinate various bilateral exercises, including JIMEX (naval), Malabar exercise (Naval Exercise), ‘Veer Guardian’ and SHINYUU Maitri (Air Force), and Dharma Guardian (Army).

Recently, the 7th India-Japan Defence Policy Dialogue took place in New Delhi, co-chaired by India’s Defence Secretary and Japan’s Vice Minister of Defense for International Affairs.

The Defence Policy Dialogue serves as an established mechanism for India and Japan to discuss matters related to bilateral defense cooperation. During the 7th Dialogue, discussions encompassed service-level exercises, regional security concerns, and cooperation in defense equipment and technology. Japan’s Vice Minister presented updates from their recently published National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. Both nations welcomed the growing collaboration between their armed services, including the inaugural fighter exercise ‘Veer Guardian’ conducted by the Indian Air Force and Japanese Air Self Defence Force in January 2023 in Japan.

The Defence Secretary emphasized the need for both countries to deepen collaboration in their respective defense industries, inviting Japanese defense industries to invest in India through the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Furthermore, both sides agreed to diversify cooperation in emerging domains such as defense space and cyber.

Institutionalized Tri-Service Exchanges between Japan and India complete the triad, while Coast Guards have been engaged in regular annual exchanges since 2006. The Japan and India Vision 2025 highlights their Special Strategic and Global Partnership, emphasizing their joint efforts for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world.

Way Forward:

Collaborating for Digital Empowerment: Both India and Japan have the opportunity to strengthen digital infrastructure by jointly promoting projects aimed at digital transformation. This cooperation can encompass various areas such as 5G technology, Open RAN, Telecom Network Security, submarine cable systems, and Quantum Communications.

Exchanging Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction: India stands to gain valuable insights from Japan’s experience in disaster management, particularly in formulating policies and measures to reduce disaster risks in vulnerable areas.

Towards a Multipolar Asia: By reshaping their strategic landscape in Asia, India and Japan have the potential to accelerate their emergence as global powers and work toward an open and secure Indo-Pacific.

March 2024