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India and Japan Converge in Southeast Asia

GS Paper 2


Syllabus: International Relations


Source: TH

 Context: The Philippines is turning to Japan and India for development and security cooperation, shifting focus from Chinese-led projects.


Issues between the Philippines and China:

The Philippines and China have ongoing disputes over the South China Sea. Tensions have escalated due to territorial claims and China’s expansive maritime activities, including the presence of Chinese vessels in Philippine waters. The Philippines has raised concerns about the infringement of its sovereign rights and called for adherence to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Philippines successfully won 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea against China.


India-Philippines Relationship:

AboutIndia and the Philippines are two democratic countries in the Indo-Pacific region that share a common approach towards the Indo-Pacific, emphasizing the importance of a free, open, and stable region.
Political RelationsDiplomatic relations were established on 26 November 1949, shortly after both countries gained independence (Philippines in 1946 and India in 1947)
 Intensification of relations with the Philippines resulted from India’s Look East Policy (1992) and further diversified with the Act East Policy (2014).
Economic RelationsIndia is currently the Philippines’ fifteenth-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade worth approximately USD 3 billion in 2022. The Philippines is a net importer of goods trade with India.
Defence CooperationBrahMos missile deal; opening of a resident Defense Attache office in Manila, consideration of India’s offer for a concessional Line of Credit to meet the Philippines’ defense requirements; cooperation on maritime domain awareness (MDA), joint patrols, and information exchange


Japan and India’s engagement in Southeast Asia:

  1. Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP):It is aimed at curbing China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. Japan’s concept of FOIP is complementary to India’s concept of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI)
  2. Partnership with ASEAN: To enhance economic, political, and cultural ties with the member nations.
  3. Infrastructure Development: Japan, through initiatives like the Partnership for Quality Infrastructure, has been involved in infrastructure development projects in Southeast Asia, including the construction of ports, roads, and energy facilities.
    1. India has also expressed interest in infrastructure projects in the region.
  4. Connectivity Projects: Japan and India’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific includes promoting connectivity. India has been actively involved in enhancing connectivity through projects like the Trilateral Highway that connects India, Myanmar, and Thailand.
  5. Economic Assistance: Both countries provide economic assistance and development aid to Southeast Asian nations to support their socio-economic growth. This includes financial support, capacity building, and technology transfer.
  6. Security Cooperation: Japan and India have engaged in security dialogues and joint military exercises with Southeast Asian countries to address common security challenges, including maritime security and counter-terrorism.
  7. Human Resource Development: India and Japan have collaborated in human resource development programs, including scholarships and training opportunities, to enhance skills and knowledge in various sectors.
  8. Regional Forums: Both countries actively participate in regional forums and organizations such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to address regional challenges and promote dialogue.


India-Japan Relations:

Shared ValuesDemocracy, Freedom, and Rule of Law
Defence and Security CooperationIndia and Japan Vision 2025: Work together for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world
Relationship elevated to Special Strategic and Global Partnership (2014)
“2+2” Dialogue
Inclusive and Rule-based International order in Indo-Pacific
FOIP (Free and Open Indo-Pacific).
Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement with India
Military exercises: Dharma Guardian (army), Veer Guardian (Air Force), MILAN, JIMEX (Navy), and Malabar
Strengthening India’s Act East PolicyJapan supports strategic connectivity linking South Asia to Southeast Asia through synergy between the “Act East” policy and “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure.”
Economic CooperationJapanese help during India’s Balance of Payments (BOP) crisis in 1991
Bilateral trade over US $20 billion (2022)
Japan was the 4th largest investor in India in FY2020.
Industries Competitiveness Partnership
Comprehensive and Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) since 2011
HealthcareNarrative of AHWIN (Japan’s) for AYUSHMAN Bharat.
Investment and ODAIndia has been the largest recipient of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loan for decades (e.g., Delhi Metro, Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, High-Speed Railways).
Global PartnershipBoth are members of G4, Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, Supply chain resilience initiatives, and QUAD.
SpaceLUPEX Mission (India’s lunar lander and Japanese rover will explore the moon).
Nuclear CooperationIndia-Japan Nuclear Deal 2016 will help India build six nuclear reactors in southern India.
Digital Infrastructure CooperationCooperation in promoting joint projects for digital transformation (5G, Open RAN, Telecom Network Security, submarine cable systems, Quantum Communications).
ChallengesClimate change and WTO talks (Japan siding with developed countries). Japan’s frosty relations with Russia (Kuril Island dispute).
ConclusionRelations between two powers can greatly support stability in the world.
Japan can help in India’s rise, e.g., India’s quest to become a global semiconductor Chip Manufacturing hub.


Insta Links



Mains Links

The India-Japan relationship is facing challenges due to the changing global geopolitical scenario. Analyse the challenges and suggest measures to address them. (250 Words)


Prelims Links

Consider the following countries: ( UPSC 2018)

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. China
  4. India
  5. Japan
  6. USA

Which of the above are among the ‘free-trade partners’ of ASEAN?

(a) 1, 2, 4 and 5
(b) 3, 4, 5 and 6
(c) 1, 3, 4 and 5
(d) 2, 3, 4 and 6


Ans: C