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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : How Shinzo Abe restored Japan’s global standing

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, India-Japan relations, INSC, Regional forums, East Asia Summit etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Significance of Japan in Indo-Pacific strategy, Indo-Pacific Region,Free and open Indo-Pacific, International organizations, India-Japan relations.etc

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Abe’s untimely passing on Friday, after being shot by an attacker during a campaign event for a parliamentary election, brought down the curtain on the career of a leader who redefined Japanese politics and diplomacy.
  • In his 2013 speech, he outlined three foreign policy priorities:
    • He wanted Japan to step up to become “a guardian of the global commons.
    • Revision of the country’s post war Constitution
    • Peace treaty with Russia.
  • In 2021, the Union government awarded Mr. Abe the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian honour.
  • The Home Ministry announced one day’s State Mourning throughout the country on Saturday as a mark of respect to the departed dignitary.

 

Current Affairs

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Indo-Japan relations:

  • Japan is regarded as a key partner in India’s economic transformation.
  • In the recent past, the India Japan relationship has transformed to a partnership of great substance and purpose.
  • Japan’s interest in India is increasing due to a variety of reasons including India’s large and growing market and its resources, especially the human resources.
  • Within India: Japan has been a leading financial donor in the form of ODA (Official Development Assistance) to India.
    • It continues to maintain a high degree of interest and support for India’s mega infrastructure projects like:
      • Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor
      • Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor
      • Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor
      • Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail
    • Outside India:
      • Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGR) announced in 2017
      • Joint projects in some third countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka and in Africa as well will be taken jointly.
    • Defense ties:
      • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is a strategic dialogue between India, United States, Japan and Australia will be carried out.
      • Malabar exercise has been carried by India, Japan and USA on a continuous basis.
      • 2+2 dialogue at the defense and foreign minister level.

 

Challenges:

  • Trade engagements have been below potential.
  • On the list of countries that India exports to, Japan is at 18th position in the list of top 25 countries. On the list of countries importing into India, Japan ranks 12th.
  • India’s exports to Japan in FY18 were lower than in FY15 in value terms.
  • India is struggling to penetrate the Japanese market as a result of language barriers, high quality and service standards.
  • Negotiations to purchase amphibious US-2 planes have dragged on for years.
  • The desire to go to India’s northeastern States, where Japan has made a significant commitment to development, was never fulfilled.
  • Japanese bullet train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, has been subsequently delayed due to land acquisition and other issues

 

Background:

 

Current Affairs 

 

His contribution to Japan’s foreign policy:

  • Japan as leader in Indo-Pacific: He lead Japan as a leader in the rules based order in the Indo-Pacific region, Mr. Abe was among the first to popularize a rule-based order in Indo-pacific.
  • Global commons: He wanted Japan to step up to become “a guardian of the global commons”in an increasingly contested maritime domain, and to work closely with “like minded democracies”, such as the S., India, Australia and South Korea.
  • More responsibilities: He assumed more security responsibilities, particularly amid rising Chinese influence in Asia. This stand often brought him in the crosshairs ofC China. Mr. Abe also wanted Japan to be a leader in regional trade.
  • Amendment in laws for armed forces: While he failed to change Article 9 of the Constitution,under his watch, Japan amended laws that will allow its armed forces to be deployed overseas and the military for the first time took part in exercises on foreign soil.
  • Strengthening US-Japan alliance: He strengthened the U.S-Japan alliance significantly, and based on that, he established a base for regional security cooperation by the S., Japan, India, and Australia[Quad].”
  • Trans-Pacific partnership(TPP) trade deal: He shepherded the Trans-Pacific-Partnership trade deal, seen as an economic counter to China.
    • The Abe administration managed to establish TPP even without the U.S., thereby enabling the Asia Pacific region to somehow maintain a momentum of free trade.

 

India and Shinzo Abe:

  • Vision for shared leadership: Abe moved Japan-India ties away from a narrow financial assistance paradigm to developing a vision for shared leadership in the vast Indo-Pacific region stretching from the South China Sea to the Suez and the east coast of Africa.
  • Special Strategic and Global Partnership: India and Japan agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to a “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” – a relationship which encompassed issues:
    • Civilian nuclear energy to maritime security
    • Bullet trains to quality infrastructure
    • Act East policy to Indo-Pacific strategy
  • Valuable G7 leader for India: Abe was a valuable G-7 leader for India, focused on strategic, economic and political deliverables, and not getting distracted by India’s domestic development.
  • Indo-Pacific architect: During Abe’s tenure, India and Japan came closer in the Indo-Pacific architecture. Abe had spelt out his vision of the “Confluence of the Two Seas” in his 2007 speech when the Quad was formed.
  • Developmental projects: During Abe’s visit in 2015, India decided to introduce the Shinkansen system (bullet train). Under Abe’s leadership, India and Japan also formed the Act East Forum and are engaged in projects in the Northeast, closely watched by China.
  • Joint projects: The two countries also planned joint projects in Maldives and Sri Lanka among others to counter Beijing’s influence.
  • Civil Nuclear deal: India and Japan were able to conclude the Civil Nuclear Deal, considered impossible given Japan’s nuclear sensitivities and India’s refusal to sign the Non-ProliferationTreaty, only due to Mr. Abe’s persistence with his Parliament.
  • Military logistic support pact: While the security agreement was in place since 2008, under Abe, the two sides decided to have a foreign and defense ministers ‘ meeting (2+2), and started negotiations on the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement — a military logistics support pact.
  • Defense technology transfer: In 2019, the first foreign and defense ministers’ meeting was held in New Delhi. A pact for transfer of defense equipment and technology was also signed in 2015, an uncommon agreement for post-War Japan.
  • Stood with India for India-China standoff: Since 2013, Indian and Chinese soldiers have had four publicly-known border standoffs, and Abe stood with India through each of them.
    • During the Doklam crisis and the current standoff, Japan made statements against China for changing the status quo.

 

Spirit of the Quad:

It includes the group’s primary objectives:

●    Maritime security

●    Combating the Covid-19 crisis, especially vis-à-vis vaccine diplomacy

●    Addressing the risks of climate change

●    Creating an ecosystem for investment in the region

●    Boosting technological innovation.

 

Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA):

●    It is a satellite-based maritime security system aiming for a “fundamental requirement for peace, stability, and prosperity” in the Indo-Pacific region.

●    It will integrate three critical regions of the Pacific Islands – Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region – and allow tracking of “dark shipping” and other “tactical activities”.

●    The maritime system will also improve the partners’ ability to respond to climate and humanitarian events and protect their fisheries – a vital need for many Indo-Pacific economies.

 

Way Forward

  • Indo Pacific is a strategic space which offers a number of challenges and opportunities for India and all other stakeholders. Along with Japan, India has strategically invested in many island countries like Maldives.
  • Diplomatic and economic engagement:Appropriate diplomatic maneuvering and economic and military assertion is vital for the implementation of India’s interests in the Indo-Pacific region along with leveraging space as a building block for a multipolar world order of which Japan forms an important pillar.
  • Leveraging strength:India must leverage Japan’s strengths in areas such as medical equipment and hospitals and India and Japan must endeavor to work together for a rules-based and inclusive world order.
  • Clean Energy Partnership: It will encourage manufacturing in India, creation of resilient and trustworthy supply chains in these areas as well as fostering collaboration in R&D (Research and Development). It will be implemented through the existing mechanism of Energy Dialogue.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  1. Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is transforming itself into a trade block from the military alliance, in present times. Discuss(UPSC 2020)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

  1. Japan relies on an alliance with the U.S. for security and for its economic future with China. Critically analyze.

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)