Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

India-Japan relations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CoRe-Competitive and Resilient Partnership

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Japan relations

The article discusses the areas in which India-Japan are cooperating and also highlight the areas in which both countries can expand cooperation.

Issues discussed in US-Japan summit

  • The discussion focused on their joint security partnership given the need to address China’s recent belligerence in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas as well as in the Taiwan Strait.
  • Both sides affirmed the centrality of their treaty alliance, for long a source of stability in East Asia, and pledged to stand up to China in key regional flashpoints such as the disputed Senkaku Islands and Taiwan.
  • Both sides acknowledged the importance of extended deterrence vis-à-vis China through cooperation on cybersecurity and space technology.
  • Discussions also touched upon Chinese ambitions to dominate the development of new age technologies such as 5G and quantum computing.
  • Given China’s recent pledge to invest a mammoth $1.4 trillion in emerging technologies, Washington and Tokyo scrambled to close the gap by announcing a Competitiveness and Resilience Partnership, or CoRe.
  • Both sides have also signalled their intent to pressure on China on violations of intellectual property rights, forced technology transfer, excess capacity issues, and the use of trade-distorting industrial subsidies.
  •  Both powers repeatedly emphasised their vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

Issues that need to be discussed in Japan PM’s visit to India

1) Continuation of balancing security policy

  • First, one can expect a continuation of the balancing security policy against China that began in 2014.
  • Crucially, India’s clashes with China in Galwan have turned public opinion in favour of a more confrontational China policy.
  • In just a decade, New Delhi and Tokyo have expanded high-level ministerial and bureaucratic contacts, conducted joint military exercises and concluded military pacts such as the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) logistics agreement.
  • Both countries need to affirm support for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and continued willingness to work with the Quad.
  • Both countries need to take stock of the state of play in the security relationship while also pushing the envelope on the still nascent cooperation on defence technology and exports.

2) Expanding cooperation in various sectors

  • The two powers will look to expand cooperation in sectors such as cybersecurity and emerging technologies.
  • Digital research and innovation partnership in technologies from AI and 5G to the Internet of Things and space research has increased between the two countries in the recent past.
  • There is a need to deepen cooperation between research institutes and expand funding in light of China’s aforementioned technology investment programme.
  • Issues of India’s insistence on data localisation and reluctance to accede to global cybersecurity agreements such as the Budapest Convention may be discussed in the summit.

3) Economic ties

  • Economic ties and infrastructure development are likely to be top drawer items on the agendas of New Delhi and Tokyo.
  • Though Japan has poured in around $34 billion in investments into the Indian economy, Japan is only India’s 12th largest trading partner.
  • Trade volumes between the two stand at just a fifth of the value of India-China bilateral trade.
  • India-Japan summit will likely reaffirm Japan’s support for key manufacturing initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and the Japan Industrial Townships.
  • Further, India will be keen to secure continued infrastructure investments in the strategically vital connectivity projects currently under way in the Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

4) Joint strategy toward key third countries

  • In years past, India and Japan have collaborated to build infrastructure in Iran and Africa.
  • Both countries have provided vital aid to Myanmar and Sri Lanka and hammer out a common Association of Southeast Asian Nations outreach policy in an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in these corners of the globe.
  • However, unlike previous summits, the time has come for India and Japan to take a hard look at reports suggesting that joint infrastructure projects in Africa and Iran have stalled with substantial cost overruns.
  •  Tokyo will also likely try to get New Delhi to reverse its decision not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Consider the question “Changes on the geopolitical horizon offers India-Japan relations multiple avenues to deepen their ties. In light of this, discuss the areas of cooperation and shared concerns for India and Japan.” 


Writing in 2006, Shinzo Abe, expressed his hope in his book that “it would not be a surprise if in another 10 years, Japan-India relations overtake Japan-U.S. and Japan-China relations”. Thus far, India has every reason to believe that Japan’s new Prime Minister is willing to make that dream a reality.

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