[Solved ‘The time has come for India and Japan to build a strong contemporary relationship, one involving global and strategic partnership that will have a great significance for Asia and the world as a whole.’ Comment. ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2019)

India’s influence on East and Southeast Asia, as well as some of the Asia-Pacific region, has been extensive. Buddhism also travelled into Japan from India (or Tenjiku, as it was called in Japan) as a gift from the king of Korea in AD 552. Indo-Japanese commercial activities were initiated in the late nineteenth century, with a number of Indians immigrating to Japan as temporary servants of the trading relationship.

 Post-independence engagements:

 • India’s interest in Southeast Asia also largely evaporated due to challenges closer to home—the traumatic border war with China in 1962 and conflicts with Pakistan in 1965and 1971. In the aftermath of the oil shock of the 1970s, India became more concerned about its energy security and consequently West Asia became more of a priority.

 • Japan, a close ally of the USA during the Cold War, also kept some distance from India beyond its budding commercial opportunities as of the 1980s.

 Post-cold war fresh starts:

 • Soon after P. V. NarasimhaRao became Prime Minister, he launched the ‘LookEast’ policy (LEP) in 1992. Its implementation during the 1990s focused particularly on engagement with Southeast Asia and ASEAN (although Prime Minister Rao articulated a broader LEP implicitly in Singapore in 1994).

 • Alongside its new efforts to capitalize on Southeast Asia’s economic success, India now sought politico-military engagement with the region, in part impelled by the need for new friends and partners after the loss of its superpower patron in 1991, and probably also worrying about China’s fast-growing links across Asia.

 • The broad objectives of the LEP during the 1990s were to institutionalize linkages with ASEAN, with its member states, and to prevent Southeast Asia falling under the influence of any one major power.

 • Although Japan was one of the top investors in India during the 1990s, ranking fourth behind the UK, USA, and Mauritius, its performance paled in comparison to that elsewhere in Asia: • Japan’s direct investment in India in1998 was one-thirteenth of its direct investment in China.

 Some of the disincentives to greater Japanese investment in India have included the infrastructure deficit in India, high tariffs, and labour problems.

 • Japanese FDI in India is continuing to expand and is expected to reach US$5.5 billion by2010.

 The number of Japanese business establishments operating in India has increased from 231 in August 2003 to 475 in February 2007.

 Recent move towards strategic partnership:

 • After 9/11 when U.S started defense strategic relation with India, it pave the way for JapanIndia relation.

 • Bilateral trade ties between India and Japan got a big strategic push in 2011 when they signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The CEPA envisages abolition of tariffs on over 94 per cent of items traded over a period of 10 years. The CEPA also covers services, movement of natural persons, investments, IPR, customs procedures and other trade related issues.

 • The Joint Statement signed by then Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Shinzo Abe in 2006 factored in the new challenges, and bilateral relationship was upgraded to a Global and Strategic Partnership with the provision of annual Prime Ministerial Summits. Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko travelled to India in 2013 and visited Delhi and Chennai giving a further boost to diplomatic ties. Abe was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in January 2014.

 • The BJP-led government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also been contributing in strengthening ties. During the 9th Annual Summit in Japan in August-September 2014, Abe and Modi, apart from further upgrading bilateral relations, also agreed to establish the ‘India-Japan Investment Promotion Partnership’. Abe, during his India visit in December 2015, signed 16 agreements/MoUs/ MoCs/ LoIs. India also announced “visa on arrival” scheme for all Japanese travelers, including for business purposes, from March 1, 2016. During Modi’s recent visit to Japan, both countries signed six agreements, including on a high speed rail project and naval cooperation.

 Factors that leads to bring a strong relationship?

 • Assertion of china in Indo-Pacific region and growing boundary disputes with Japan laid down the basis for Indo-Japan.

 • Converging interests of both the countries like Maritime Security, secure Sea lines of Communication etc.

 • Two Major Powers of Asia and at the same time they are facing similar challenges from the neighborhood.

 • For Japan, expanding partnership with India serves as a hedge against China acting to challenge the existing post-World War II, rules-based, international and regional order.

 • India is one of the few countries which have the capacity to act as a net security provider in the region.

 • Rising significance of the Indo- Pacific region, in which there is an attempt from china to establish china-centric based order with geo-politics shifting towards the Asian subcontinent. Thus IndoJapan being the two important democracies with the track record of peace building and human rights are looking forward for equitable order & multipolar order.

 • Uncertainty on the role of United States of America’s commitment to peace in the region Moving towards a contemporary relationship:

 • In the recent past, there has been a remarkable transformation in the bilateral relationship and the two countries have emerged as genuine strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific. Sometimes, the concept ‘strategic partnership’ is casually deployed to define any and every relationship.

 • However, a relationship in international politics becomes ‘strategic’ when it has an impact on the overall balance-of-power in a region. This balance-of-power is often impacted by the changes in the capabilities of nation-states. The India-Japan strategic partnership is playing out in conceptual, strategic and in economic realms.

 • Defense: Both countries are part of QUAD grouping which was created to counter the rising aggression of China.

 • The Foreign and Defense Ministerial Two-Plus-Two Dialogues reflects the growing special relationship between the two countries.

 • Both countries were successful in pushing the spatial constructs such as the ‘Indo-Pacific’ into the discourses on international politics. There may be quibbles on the boundaries of the Indo-Pacific, but it appears that geographic construct is here to stay.

 • Cultural Cooperation: Cultural exchanges between India and Japan began early in 6th century with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from India.

 • Tokyo and Delhi also share similar strategic objectives, which include the creation of a robust multipower Asian order and thriving open sea lanes of communication in the region. Consequently, the maritime cooperation between the two countries is gaining momentum.

 • Focus is on Sustainable development through the platform of Asia – Africa Growth Corridor and both countries will work towards bringing reforms in United Nations Security Council apart from focusing on areas like Climate Change, disaster risk management etc.

 • Nuclear Cooperation: Historic Indo-Japan nuclear deal was concluded in 2017. This was the first time that Japan signed such a deal with a non-signatory of Non-Proliferation Treaty Challenges:

 Certain challenges have to be addressed if the relationship has to reach its potential.

 • Languishing trade should be improved. While bilateral trade between India – Japan is $15 billion, it is around $300 b between Japan and China.

 • Apart from that both countries should strengthen and deepen their defense cooperation.

 Why they need to bring a strong relationship?

 • Converging interests of both the countries like Maritime Security, secure Sea lines of Communication etc

 • For Japan, expanding partnership with India serves as a hedge against China acting to challenge the existing post-World War II, rules-based, international and regional order.

 • India is one of the few countries which has the capacity to act as a net security provider in the region.

 • Rising significance of the Indo- Pacific region, with geo-politics shifting towards the Asian subcontinent.

 • Uncertainty on the role of United States of America’s commitment to peace in the region

 Areas of cooperation

 Economic

 • India is the largest recipient of Japanese official development assistance (ODA).As of, bilateral trade between India and Japan stands at around $15.7 billion (2017)

 • Japan has invested in the $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (1,483 km high-speed rail and road line) which will see the setting up of new cities, industrial parks, ports and airports.

 • Some other projects being backed by Japan are

 ▪ Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail,

 ▪ Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC),

 ▪ Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC)

 o Delhi Metro Project has also been realized with Japanese assistance

 o Upgrading civilian infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

 • Japan is the third-largest source of FDI ($28.160 billion between 2000 and June 2018) investment into India after Mauritius and Singapore.

 • Convergence of interest in North-East development, Asia-Africa Growth corridor, Russian FarEast investment, etc.

 Defence

 o The Foreign and Defense Ministerial Two-Plus-Two Dialogue reflects the growing special relationship between the two countries

 o Both countries are part of QUAD grouping which was created to counter the rising aggression of China

 Cultural

 o Cultural exchanges between India and Japan began early in 6th century with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from India.

 Nuclear energy:

 • Historic Indo-Japan nuclear deal was concluded in 2017. This was the first time that Japan signed such a deal with a non-signatory of Non-Proliferation Treaty

 Significance

 • Will contribute to free, open, transparent, rule based and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

 • Counter Chinese aggression in the South East Asian region.

 • Focus on Sustainable development through the platform of Asia – Africa Growth Corridor • Both countries will work towards bringing reforms in United Nations Security Council apart from focusing on areas like Climate Change, disaster risk management etc Challenges:

 Certain challenges have to be addressed if the relationship has to reach its potential.

 • Languishing trade should be improved. While bilateral trade between India – Japan is $15 billion, it is around $300 b between Japan and China.

 • Apart from that both countries should strengthen and deepen defence cooperation.

 India and Japan, two powerful democratic forces in Asia should join hands to establish peace and order not only in Asia but in the entire world.

Conclusion:

 An important challenge for India-Japan strategic partnership is less than satisfactory cooperation in defense equipment and technology segment. Japan historically followed a very restrictive defense export policy. However India and Japan, two powerful democratic forces in Asia should join hands to establish peace and order not only in Asia but in the entire world The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilizational ties. Such close ties have been reaffirmed in the 21st century with the conclusion of ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’ between the two countries.

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