The new Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to the United States in April 2021 has set the agenda for the wider Indo-Pacific engagement of Tokyo and its evolving priorities.
GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies and development affecting India’s Interests)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Overview of India – Japan Relations
- Focus on China: Japan’s visit to U.S.
- What to expect in the Future with Japan’s new Prime Minister?
- Recently in news: Japan’s first-ever assistance project Andaman & Nicobar (A&N)
Overview of India – Japan Relations
- Exchange between Japan and India is said to have begun in the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan, which spread indirectly from India to Japan, via China and Korea.
- India and Japan, two of the largest and oldest democracies in Asia, having a high degree of congruence of political, economic and strategic interests, view each other as partners that have responsibility for, and are capable of, responding to global and regional challenges.
- Post Japan’s defeat in World War-II, a relatively well-known result of the two nations was in 1949, when India sent the Tokyo Zoo two elephants to cheer the spirits of the defeated Japanese empire.
- Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations in 1950s.
- The British occupiers of India and Japan were enemies during World War II, but political relations between the two nations have remained warm since India’s independence.
- Japanese companies, such as Yamaha, Sony, Toyota, and Honda have manufacturing facilities in India, and with the growth of the Indian economy, India is a big market for Japanese firms.
- In 2006, India culminated in the signing of the “Joint Statement Towards Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership”.
- Japan has helped finance many infrastructure projects in India, most notably the Delhi Metro system.
- In 2016, India and Japan signed the “Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy”, a landmark civil nuclear agreement, under which Japan will supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology to India. (India is the only non-signatory of NPT to receive an exemption from Japan.)
- India and Japan have shared interests in maintaining the security of sea-lanes in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, and in co-operation for fighting international crime, terrorism, piracy and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
- The two nations have frequently held joint military exercises and co-operate on technology.
Focus on China: Japan’s visit to U.S.
- Tokyo and Washington drilled down to brass tacks on their joint security partnership given the need to address China’s recent belligerence in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas as well as in the Taiwan Strait.
- Both U.S. and Japan affirmed the centrality of their treaty alliance, for long a source of stability in East Asia, and pledged to stand up to China in key regional flashpoints such as the disputed Senkaku Islands and Taiwan.
- Reflecting the changed nature of conflict, both sides acknowledged the importance of extended deterrence vis-à-vis China through cooperation on cybersecurity and space technology.
- Discussions also touched upon Chinese ambitions to dominate the development of new age technologies such as 5G and quantum computing.
- Tokyo and Washington also rallied around the standard of shared values – repeatedly emphasising on vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific that respects the rule of law, freedom of navigation, democratic norms and the use of peaceful means to settle disputes.
- In the aftermath of the successful Quad Summit both parties expressed their continued support for the four-nation grouping of the United States, India, Australia and Japan.
- China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang, its heavy-handed suppression of protests in Hong Kong and military aggression towards Taiwan came in for heavy criticism.
What to expect in the Future with Japan’s new Prime Minister?
China and Indo-Pacific
- First, one can expect a continuation of the balancing security policy against China that began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe in 2014.
- In just a decade, New Delhi and Tokyo have expanded high-level ministerial and bureaucratic contacts, conducted joint military exercises and concluded military pacts such as the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) logistics agreement.
- One can also expect affirmation of New Delhi and Tokyo’s support for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and continued willingness to work with the Quad, which is fast emerging as a central pillar of the security strategies of both nations.
- Second, the two powers will look to expand cooperation in sectors such as cybersecurity and emerging technologies. In the past New Delhi and Tokyo put together a digital research and innovation partnership that ran the gamut of technologies from AI and 5G to the Internet of Things and space research.
- However, there are concerns regarding the possibility of Japan bringing up the disagreements over India’s insistence on data localisation and continued reluctance to accede to global cybersecurity agreements such as the Budapest Convention.
Economic ties and infrastructure development
- Third, economic ties and infrastructure development are likely to be top drawer items on the agendas of New Delhi and Tokyo.
- While Japan has poured in around $34 billion in investments into the Indian economy over the course of the last two decades, Japan is only India’s 12th largest trading partner, and trade volumes between the two stand at just a fifth of the value of India-China bilateral trade.
- India will be keen to secure continued infrastructure investments in the strategically vital connectivity projects currently under way in the Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Third country outlook
- Future meeting between India and Japan is expected to devote much attention to evolving a joint strategy towards key third countries and multilateral bodies.
- In years past, New Delhi and Tokyo have collaborated to build infrastructure in Iran and Africa, provide vital aid to Myanmar and Sri Lanka and hammer out a common Association of Southeast Asian Nations outreach policy in an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in these corners of the globe.
Recently in news: Japan’s first-ever official development assistance (ODA) project in Andaman & Nicobar (A&N)
- In the first-ever official development assistance (ODA) project in Andaman & Nicobar (A&N), Japan has approved grant aid to improve the power supply in the A&N islands along with loans for executing four projects, including Delhi Metro’s Phase 4 and Bengaluru Metro’s Phase 2.
- This is the first-ever ODA project in the strategic islands of Andaman & Nicobar (apart from humanitarian emergency assistance) to improve the power supply in the islands, stressing the strategic geopolitical location of the islands for an open Indo-Pacific.
- The grant would be used to procure batteries as well as power system stabilisers to allow better utilisation of solar power generated in South Andaman.
-Source: The Hindu