Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Japan with India, for Indo-Pacific


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India- Japan ties


The article recounts the contribution of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in strengthening India-Japan ties.

Indo-Japan ties: Background

  • Japan-India ties are 70 years old this year.
  • For the first five post-war decades of the 20th century, bilateral ties were friendly.
  • India was not among the signatories of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, which brokered post-war relations between the defeated Axis power and the Allies.
  • Instead, Delhi established an independent peace treaty and bilateral relations with Japan.
  • Nehru’s decision to accept Japanese Overseas Development Aid, the first country to do so, also generated a lot of goodwill in the bilateral relationship. Several collaborations took place.
  • But it was only in the 21st century that bilateral ties climbed up to the next level.

India-Japan ties during Shinzo Abe’s premiership

  • While Prime Ministers Yoshiro Mori had signed the Global Partnership for the 21st Century Agreement in 2000, to Abe goes much of the credit for the transformation of India-Japan ties in the last two decades.
  • This period witnessed the Japanese funding for ambitious projects such as the Mumbai-Delhi Industrial Corridor and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.
  • The two countries upgraded the relationship to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership.
  • After a waiver to India from the Nuclear Suppliers Group following the India-US civil nuclear deal, Abe — and his Liberal Democratic Party successors — had begun to consider a similar deal with India, and a round of negotiations was held in that period.
  • The deal was eventually signed in 2016, and became operational a year later.
  •  It was during his tenure that the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (constitutionally, the Japanese military exists only for self-defence purposes) began naval exercises with friendly powers — India and Japan held their first naval exercise in December 2013 — and the country appointed its first National Security Advisor.


Abe believed that he was both destined and better equipped than many of his peers to play a transformational role in Japan’s politics and foreign affairs. He certainly achieved that with India. His passionate advocacy of closer ties with India will be missed.

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