india-japan-bilateral-relations

CONTEXT

The year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India.

INDO-JAPANESE COOPERATION 

  • Long standing friendship:Formal relations between Japan and India began in 1952. After the Second World War, instead of signing the multilateral San Francisco Peace Treaty, India opted for concluding a bilateral peace treaty with Japan, considering that honour and equality should be ensured for Japan to rejoin the international community.
  • Economic cooperation: Japan has been the largest ODA (Official Development Assistance) donor to India for a long time.
    • Japan and India also stand to benefit from closer economic and developmental partnerships, including energy, water supply, health, irrigation, environment, technology, and people-to-people exchanges.
    • One of the most recent and ongoing examples of our collaboration is the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project.
    • Japan is also one of the largest investors in India.
    • In 2018, Japan and India also inked a digital partnership, which includes the establishment of a startup hub in Bengaluru, mutual investments support, collaboration on digital infrastructure and system designs
    • Both countries have also promoted economic cooperation in other countries to enhance social infrastructure and connectivity.
  • Support for ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP): Tokyo and New Delhi’s engagement in joint infrastructure development projects in the Indian Ocean littorals provides an opportunity for ASEAN to realize the AOIP’s stated areas of collaboration in the Indo-Pacific:
    • maritime cooperation, connectivity
    • sustainable development
    • economy.
  • Countering China: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 ASEAN outreach policy in an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in these corners of the globe.
    • Engagement efforts such as Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, joint infrastructure projects in Indian Ocean littorals, and subregional cooperation frameworks promote not only viable development assistance but also an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is fast making inroads in the region.
  • Cyber cooperation: both countries have stepped up the cooperation on information and communications technology (ICT) and cybersecurity to enhance joint efforts around 5G technology, as well as security of information infrastructure.
    • In the wake of increased tensions with China, India-Japan cooperation in the ICT sector is seen as a countermove to China’s growing influence in the telecommunications and digital infrastructure.
  • Political cooperation: Tokyo and New Delhi held their inaugural “two-plus-two” Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting last year.
    • Japan is only the second country (after the United States) with which India has such a high level two-plus-two format.
    • The two-plus-two provides a platform to explore New Delhi and Tokyo’s converging Indo-Pacific vision.
  • Military engagement: Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) agreement would enhance the already close military engagement between the two countries whereby Japan could gain access to Indian facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and India could have access to Japan’s naval facility in Djibouti.
  • Bilateral exercises: India and Japan held the fifth edition of the Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) in the Arabian Sea in October.
    • The exercise, JIMEX-21, involved ships and aircraft of both the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and Indian Navy.
  • People to people ties:both countries share a long history of people-to-people exchanges that can be traced back to the sixth century.
    • Buddhism was brought to Japan and, in 752, an Indian monk, Bodhisena, performed the consecration ceremony for the Great Buddha Statue at Todai-ji, which is one of the most important temples in Japan

CONCERNS

  • Chinese economic clout
    • Trade & investment:Japan has poured in around $34 billion in investments into the Indian economy over the course of the last two decades, however 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.
  • Integration of Indians into Japanese society: more efforts are needed to promote the integration of Indian workers into Japanese society, where language barrier remains a key challenge.

WAY FORWARD

  • International peace & rule based order: both  being democratic countries can cooperate to contribute to global peace and prosperity.
    • India and Japan share political, economic and strategic interests based on the firm foundations of common values and traditions.
    • There are a plethora of fields in which cooperation is needed like in security issues including cyber security, outer space and economic security.
  • Augmentation of economic relations: the economic partnership can further strengthen the economy of the Indo-Pacific, as well as the world economy.
  • Cultural cooperation: cultural exchanges including literature, movies, music, sports and academics help in enabling a better understanding.

The international system is undergoing transition with a weakening U.S.-led liberal order challenged by contesting regional visions. A stronger, comprehensive partnership between Japan and India creates an indigenous and inclusive axis, as well as a credible and stable center of gravity in intra-Asian relations.

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