The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilization ties. India and Japan established diplomatic relations on 28 April 1952.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.


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 dialogue at the defence and foreign minister level.


Bilateral Cooperation:

  • The Ministers welcomed the progress made in deepening bilateral defence cooperation last year. In this regard, the welcome of the recently conducted second “Dharma Guardian-2019” and the second “SHINYUU Maitri-2019”. They also concurred to proceed with coordination for the first India-Japan joint fighter aircraft exercise in Japan.
  • The Ministers welcomed the significant progress made in the negotiations of Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) since the announcement to commence the negotiations in October 2018.
  • Acknowledging the importance of ensuring maritime safety in achieving a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, the Ministers expressed their intention to further promote cooperation in the field of capacity building in maritime security and Maritime Domain Awareness including through cooperation with other countries.
  • Emphasized the need to further strengthen the defence equipment and technology.
  • Appreciated the existing exchange programs between the defence educational and research institutions of the two countries and expressed their desire to continue and expand the exchange programmes.


Multilateral Cooperation:

  • Recalling the Japan-India-US Summit Meetings in November 2018 and June 2019, the Ministers acknowledged the trilateral cooperation with the US. The Ministers expressed their satisfaction at trilateral cooperation represented by the “Malabar 2019” held from September-October 2019 off the coast of Japan, mine-countermeasures exercise (MINEX) held in Japan in July 2019 and “Cope India 2018” in which Japan participated as an observer in December 2018.
  • The Ministers welcomed the recent Japan-India-Australia-US Foreign Ministerial consultations in New York in September 2019.


Regional and International Affairs:

  • A frank and fruitful exchange of views on the regional issues of mutual interests particularly on the security situation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of supporting ASEAN centrality and unity for promoting peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Japanese side appreciated India’s announcement of “Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative” at the recent 14th EAS to create a safe, secure, stable, prosperous and sustainable maritime domain and confirmed their willingness to discuss concrete cooperation based on the Initiative.
  • The Ministers exchanged views on the recent developments in the South China Sea.
  • The importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce and peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • It condemned in the strongest terms the growing threat of terrorism and acknowledged that it constituted a major threat to peace and security in the region.
  • It was emphasized the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence.


Big-ticket Investments:

  • Japan has been extending bilateral loan and grant assistance to India since 1958, and is its largest bilateral donor.
  • Japanese ODA supports India’s development in sectors such as power, transportation, environmental projects and projects related to basic human needs.
  • $90 billion has gone into the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
  • Japan is also backing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (bullet train) service.
  • Discussions have also taken place on the Dedicated Freight Corridor, a project of close to Rs 50,000 crore of which Japanese assistance has been of about Rs 38,000 crore.


New Areas of Engagement:

  • A ‘Cool EMS Service’ was started, under which Japanese food items are transported in cool boxes from Japan to India through postal channels.
  • Both sides are striving to push a digital partnership.
  • Areas of potential collaboration include AI, IoT, and big data.
  • India is likely to pitch for integration between the Ayushman Bharat project and the Japanese Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative.



  • 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 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.


Way Forward:

  • Experts say that a strong India is in Japan’s best interest and for that, Japan must provide even more support.
  • India must leverage Japan’s strengths in areas such as medical equipment and hospitals.
  • India and Japan must endeavour to work together for a rules-based and inclusive world order.
  • Enhancing communication and connectivity for unimpeded trade and flow of people, technology and ideas for shared prosperity.
  • Further cooperate for peace, stability and prosperity of Indo-Pacific.