The Big Picture – Takeaways from Abe visit
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe met at the 12th India-Japan annual summit and signed 15 agreements recently to strengthen cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. The agreements were done on various issues including Disaster Risk Management, Skills Development, Connectivity, Investments, Civil Aviation, Science & Technology and focussed on improving people to people relation as well. The main highlight was the massive high-speed Bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai at a cost of Rs.1.1 lakh crores.
- The political relations of India and Japan, that were enemies during WW II, have remained warm since India’s independence. Japanese companies like Sony and Honda have invested in India and people from both the countries have made cultural exchanges too, primarily due to Buddhism.
- The bilateral trade between the two nations was $13.48 billion and Japanese FDI in India was $4.7 billion in 2016-17 and India remains an attractive investment destination for Japan. Economic relations between both have vast potential for growth, as Japan finds market for their sophisticated engineering & various kinds of infrastructure facilities in India, and it is expected to reach $50 billion by 2019-20.
- MoU was signed to set up India Japan Act East Forum to enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in India’s Northeast region. Japan has a historic connection to the Northeast which are the country’s gateway to ASEAN members.
- The signing of bullet train project is good as it connects two big cities and reduces the time of travel. But, the primary responsibility at present is to focus upon protection and maintenance of our own railways. Hopefully, introduction of this well-proven Japanese train project may make our railways to learn and improve from it.
- But for bilateral relations, strategy is more important than just economic takeaways. Improving relations with Japan provides a natural counterbalance to China and check its hegemony which was recently engaged over the Doklam issue with India. The trilateral naval exercise (Malabar) between US, Japan and India is important. USA has already its seventh fleet deployed in Yokosuka, Japan. Also, Shinzo Abe has talked about the Quadrilateral Dialogue, which runs in the background, and includes Australia
- The summit also talked about terror that originates in Pakistan, that was recently also mentioned in the BRICS summit. It is symbolic to Pakistan to clean up its house, as this issue is being highlighted by various countries now.
- India should increase its view and focus upon the huge oceanic regions which has Andaman, Lakshadweep, South China Sea, etc. To improve its security operations there, it needs to upgrade itself with more advanced and efficient flying boats like the ShinMaywa US-2 already offered by Japanese. South China Sea is a region claimed by China, and India should combat China when it claims the region as their territory, if it wants to be a major power in Asia.
- The Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), an economic cooperation between India and Japan, is also important in providing an answer to China’s Belt & Road initiative.
Improving relations with technologically advanced Japan is a good step and provides way forward for other developmental projects in India. Moreover, being a counterbalance to China, this relation can help India in improving its Look East Policy and open its gateways in Indo-Pacific region. Japan would also benefit and may like to improve its relations with ASEAN members, where India already has good relations with countries like Indonesia and Philippines.