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Sansad TV: Perspective- 2nd India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue

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Introduction:

The second India-Japan 2+2 ministerial dialogue took place in Tokyo. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, along with Japan’s Minister of Defence Yasukazu Hamada and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi, reviewed the bilateral cooperation across domains and discussed the way forward to further enhance the Indo-Japan relationship. India and Japan are currently pursuing a special strategic and global partnership. In addition to the 2+2 format dialogue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also held bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart Yasukazu Hamada. The two ministers acknowledged the importance of India-Japan defence partnership and the critical role it will play in ensuring a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, while reaffirming that they would continue to vigorously promote defence cooperation and exchanges, for further enhancing Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership.

2+2 Dialogue:

  • Earlier India and Japan had a 2+2 dialogue at the secretary-level.
  • In 2019 for the first time it decided to have a 2+2 dialogue mechanism between Defence and Foreign ministers.
  • This is aimed at giving political muscle to the existing diplomatic, security and defence cooperation.
  • Both sides believe that the new era of India Japan relations will be strengthened by the 2+2 dialogue.
  • So far, India only had a 2+2 dialogue between Defence and Foreign Ministers with the US.
  • The mechanism itself is quite significant. Japan is only the second country (after the United States) with which India has such a dialogue format.
  • The India-Japan 2+2 dialogue is an endorsement of the special strategic partnership between New Delhi and Tokyo.
  • More broadly, the dialogue has been driven by the mutual desire to frame an Asia that is not dominated by a single country and to see the emergence of a multipolar Indo-Pacific that is free, open, and inclusive.
  • India and Japan have both approached the emerging Asian strategic framework with that goal in mind and both want an inclusive approach in the region. Both see China’s approach in the region as being exclusivist. There is a clear clash between these two visions of the region.
  • The idea of such a 2+2 meeting was initiated during the summit meeting between Modi and Abe in Tokyo in October 2018.
  • The joint statement following the summit meeting recognized the need for such a dialogue. This would be in addition to existing strategic dialogue formats such as the Annual Defense Ministerial Dialogue, Defense Policy Dialogue, the National Security Advisers’ Dialogue.
  • Similar, but lower level, India and Japan dialogues have gone on for close to a decade now. The two have had a 2+2 foreign and defense dialogue led by secretary level officers from 2010. This dialogue was established as per the Action Plan to Advance Security Cooperation agreed between the two countries in December 2009.
  • Discussions on global commons including maritime, outer space, and cyber space have been key themes in this dialogue.

India-Japan bilateral relation

  • 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 the Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor and the Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail
  • Outside India: Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGR)announced in 2017 and joint projects in some third countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka and in Africa as well will be taken jointly.
  • Defence 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 dialogueat the defence and foreign minister level.

Potential areas of development

  • There are a plethora of fields that we can cooperate in security issues including cyber security, outer space and economic security to build a rules-based free and open international order.
  • Our economic partnership can further strengthen the economy of the Indo-Pacific, as well as the world economy.
  • In spite of CEPA India Japan trade it has not produced the anticipated results. In 2011-12, the total volume of the bilateral trade was $18.43 billion, but it declined to $13.48 billion during 2016-17.
  • The defence technology sharing is still a thorn. The US-2 amphibian aircraft has been on the back burner.
  • Both have diverging interest with respect to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • Both countries do not have a specific China policy.
  • India and Japan need to strengthen their naval power vis-à-vis China and hasten the pending projects in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean respectively

 

Conclusion:

Overall, the India-Japan ministerial level 2+2 strategic dialogue is an important initiative emphasizing the deep interest in both India and Japan to further strengthen their security and strategic engagements. The two countries have built a strong strategic partnership in the last decade. While China may have been a factor, building this relationship was easier because of the absence of any baggage, unlike, for instance, with the United States.  But India and Japan also need to build a larger coalition if they are to balance China effectively.