Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Oct, 27, 2018

[op-ed snap] Touching base: On PM Modi's visit to Japan


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Malabar military exercise

Mains level: A strong partnership between India-Japan & its advantages


13th India-Japan Summit

  1. India’s high regard for Japan is certainly rooted in shared history
  2. The warm Modi-Abe relationship has been built over 12 meetings, including four summits, since 2014
  3. Such symbiosis, unusual in international relations, has, understandably, heightened interest in the 13th India-Japan Summit, scheduled on October 28-29 in Tokyo
  4. Eve, since they institutionalised annual summit-level meetings in 2006, India and Japan, have held a closely aligned world-view

Common concerns for India & Japan: US & China

  1. China’s economic and military rise, its growing belligerence and its refusal to comply with the existing rule-based order are a cause of concern for both countries
  2. China’s capricious actions in the East and South China Seas and its relentless quest for distant Indian Ocean footholds have focused sharp attention on maritime-security in the region
  3. President Donald Trump’s recent actions on trade tariffs, sanctions against Iran and Russia, as well as the U.S.’s exit from several multilateral and security regimes are impacting both countries in different ways
  4. For India, the impact is more direct, as the economy has been hurt by new American tariffs, review of its GSP (trading) status, and restrictions on visas for professionals
  5. Moreover, possible U.S. sanctions over Indian engagement with Iran as well as defence purchases from Russia pose a looming challenge
  6. For Japan too, U.S. trade tariffs are a concern and Washington’s exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is corralling Southeast Asian countries into a free trade regime under Chinese domination
  7. In addition, the U.S.’s on-again, off-again nuclear negotiations with North Korea are keeping Tokyo on tenterhooks

Advantages of a bilateral relationship

  1. Japan, as a resource-deficient island state and major economy, is totally dependent on sea-lanes for its energy, commerce, industry and security
  2. Despite the crucial reliance on the seas, Japan faces serious capacity limitations in its ability to protect its sea-borne trade and energy traffic
  3. It is constrained by constitutional curbs on the maintenance of military/naval forces and their deployment overseas
  4. India, as a significant naval power with a dominant peninsular location astride shipping-lanes, plays a major role in ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean and its environs
  5. Close cooperation with a democratic India, located mid-way along trade-routes connecting East Asia with the Middle East and Africa, would be advantageous to Japan
  6. At the same time, a technologically deficient India has much to gain from a relationship with a country like Japan

The relationship in recent years

  1. Regular prime-ministerial exchanges have yielded a “special strategic partnership” as well as a landmark civil nuclear agreement
  2. A Defence Cooperation Agreement was signed in 2006 and Japan was, formally, admitted as the third member of the “Malabar” Indo-US naval exercises last year
  3. India and Japan have stepped up military exchanges and will begin negotiations on a landmark acquisition and cross-servicing logistics agreement

Loose ends in bilateral relations

  1. The Shinkansen bullet train project has gathered speed, with the Japan International Cooperation Agency releasing the first tranche of ₹5,500 crore recently. But it could still run into delays over land acquisition issues
  2. Japan does not accord due importance to India in its security calculus
  3. Japan has offered neither military hardware nor the technology to India. There has been little movement on the pending purchase of ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian aircraft
  4. While Japanese investment has grown several-fold in India, trade figures are lower than levels five years ago
  5. There seems to be a difference in perceptions about China; Japan, while highlighting its own security concerns in the East and South China Seas, is seen to play down the multiple threats that India faces from China

Way forward

  1. As the two prime ministers seek a modus vivendi for navigating hurdles and realising the potential of the Indo-Japanese relationship, especially in the fields of defence and security, they should be buoyed by the fact that India and Japan, of all Asian nations, carry no historical burden of the past
  2. None of the issues between the two nations is insurmountable, and the larger concerns of how to navigate uncharted and stormy geopolitical terrain, while maintaining strong positions on the international rules-based order, are likely to dominate Mr Modi’s visit

With inputs from the editorial: East meets east

Oct, 19, 2018

[pib] Exercise Dharma Guardian- 2018


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Ex. Dharma Guardian

Mains level:  India -Japan Defence cooperation



  • To promote Military cooperation, India and Japan are all set to hold the first ever joint military exercise ‘DHARMA GUARDIAN-2018’ involving the Indian Army and Japan Ground Self Defence Force.

Exercise Dharma Guardian- 2018

  1. The Indian contingent will be represented by 6/1 GORKHA RIFLES while the Japanese contingent will be represented by 32 Infantry Regiment of the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force.
  2. During the 14 day long exercise, due emphasis will be laid on increasing interoperability between forces from both countries.
  3. Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well developed tactical drills for neutralisation of likely threats that may be encountered in urban warfare scenario.
  4. Experts from both sides will also hold detailed discussions to share their expertise on varied operational aspects.

Importance of the Exercise

  1. The exercise will be another step in deepening strategic ties including closer defence cooperation between the two countries.
  2. It will contribute immensely in developing mutual understanding and respect for each other’s militaries and also facilitate tracking the worldwide phenomenon of  terrorism.
Mar, 15, 2018

[op-ed snap] Far short of the potential

Jan, 18, 2018

Japan in driver’s seat for Indian bullet train deals: report

FILE PHOTO: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration ceremony of the ‘Make In India’ week in Mumbai, India, February 13, 2016. To match Exclusive JAPAN-INDIA/TRAIN REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Concerns related to Make in India and the two important clauses of the agreement.


What is the news?

  1. According to reports, Japanese steel and engineering companies are in the driver’s seat to bag major supply contracts for a $17 billion Indian bullet train
  2. Japan is funding most of the project, and Japanese companies are likely to supply at least 70 percent of the core components of the rail line
  3. It undermines a key component of India’s economic policy — a push to ‘Make in India’

Important clauses of the agreement

  1. The agreement between Japan and India for the bullet train project included two clauses through which India had hoped to set up manufacturing facilities in the country, generate jobs and get a toehold in Japanese technology
  2. The two clauses were the promotion of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Transfer of Technology

Quality concerns from the Japanese side

  1. The Indian government last year mediated negotiations between Nippon Steel and India’s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd to set up a joint venture to manufacture rails
  2. But the talks fell through after the Japanese major raised quality concerns
  3. Steel Authority of India (SAIL), which for decades has been the main supplier of rails to Indian Railways, was also overlooked by Japanese companies due to quality concerns
Dec, 02, 2017

[op-ed snap] Scripting another Asian narrative

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of India in Japan’s changing Foreign Policy, with the main aim is to counter China’s aggression in the region



  1. The article talks about Japan’s changing Foreign Policy and India’s crucial role in it

Significant change in the Foreign Policy of Japan

  1. China’s muscular Foreign Policy and combined with the America’s first objective of the Trump-led U.S. is causing Japan to rethink its role in Asia
  2. From proposing new security dialogues, to taking the lead in developing multilateral trade agreements, it is the beginning of feeling the vacuum left out by the US(due to its America’s first policy)
  3. Japan no longer believes that a wholescale reliance on the U.S. for a defence umbrella is sufficient to secure its best interests
  4. Military normalisation is one prong of Japan’s new foreign policy, but even if a controversial revision of Japan’s pacifist Constitution, Japan’s armed forces will remain under strong, self-imposed constraints

What should be done by Japan?

  1. Japan realises that remilitarising alone will not provide Japan with an effective solution to its diplomatic dilemmas
  2. Japan needs to prevent the region from succumbing to a Pax Sinica is to use its strengths, its capital, its technological know-how
  3. And its democratic credentials to win friends and influence countries across the region and beyond
  4. What is Pax Sinica: Pax Sinica is a historiographical term, modeled after the original phrase Pax Romana, applied to the period of peace in East Asia, maintained by Chinese hegemony
  5. It needs to beat infrastructure power of China at its own game

Japan: The new economic driving force

  1. A large part of China’s rise has to do with its indispensability to global trade
  2. But Japan is a trading heavyweight too, and is attempting to stake leadership on the regional platform with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
  3. With the U.S.’s departure from trade negotiations, Japan has become the principal driving force keeping the deal alive

Japan’s contribution in Southeast Asia

  1. Japan is stepping up aid and investment in Southeast Asia
  2. A train line near Manila, a seaport in Cambodia, and assistance in the reconstruction of Marawi City in the Philippines are some examples.
  3. Japan is the top source of development aid to Vietnam

Japan’s Foreign Policy towards India

  1. For countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure building campaign, Japan has picked up by turning to the only country in the region with the size to match China i.e. India
  2. Japan and India have announced an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, aimed at creating sea corridors linking the countries of the Indo-Pacific to Africa
  3. In addition, Japan is cooperating with India in third country infrastructure projects such as
    (1) Iran’s Chabahar Port,
    (2) Sri Lanka’s Trincomalee port,
    (3) and the possible joint development of the Dawei port along the Thai-Myanmar border
  4. Japan has bagged the $17 billion contract to build India’s first high speed railway line, linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad
  5. Tokyo is also investing in development projects in the Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar islands
  6. And Japan’s Diet gave the go ahead to a Japan-India civil nuclear energy deal earlier this year
  7. The possibility of purchasing Japanese submarines and search-and-rescue planes to help the Indian Navy is being discussed

Quad: A Japan’s Idea

  1. A free and open Indo-Pacific, a phrasing that places India as a major actor in the Pacific, is an idea being proselytised by Japan in conjunction with the U.S.
  2. This is a response to concerns over the expansion of the Chinese navy and Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, waters through which a huge majority of Japanese energy supplies transit


  1. Japan wants to use the bilateral ties it is developing to create a multilateral architecture in the region
  2. Japan is aware that unilateral moves by it invariably conjure up images of militarism and expansionism(of World War II)
  3. However, without making genuine amendments for its past aggressions, Japan’s attempts to shape the future of the region will remain constrained
Oct, 26, 2017

[op-ed snap] The confluence of two seas

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Belt and Road initiative, Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (PQI)

Mains level: India’s rising stature in geopolitics as well as geoeconomics of world


  1. A few months ago, Delhi seemed alone in opposing China’s trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  2. Now Delhi may be in a position to work with its partners — especially Japan and the US — to offer a credible alternative to the BRI

Arguments that India put up while opposing BRI

  1. India argued that projects under BRI did not meet international norms for infrastructure development
  2. Connectivity initiative must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that
  • create an unsustainable debt burden for communities;
  • don’t have balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards;
  • lack transparent assessment of project costs;
  • don’t provide skill and technology transfer to help long-term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities

3. Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity

Changes in international support

  1. The US and Japan have supported Delhi’s criticism of the BRI
  2. Delhi, Tokyo, and Washington have also begun a serious conversation on working together on Indo-Pacific infrastructure development

Japan’s programme to counter BRI

  1. In 2015, Japanese PM had announced the Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (PQI) with a fund of nearly $110 billion
  2. It is Tokyo’s own programme to promote connectivity in Asia
  3. Well before China announced the BRI in 2013, Japanese PM had unveiled a new vision of regional connectivity
  4. During his India visit in 2007 and in his address to Parliament, he had talked about “confluence of the two seas”
  5. More recently, he expanded on the concept by talking about a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”
  6. It now calls for connecting “two continents” — Asia and Africa — and “two oceans” — the Indian and Pacific through trans-border connectivity corridors

What does India need to do to counter BRI?

  1. India needs to provide a real alternative
  2. Countries like Sri Lanka and Burma express political reservations against some of the Chinese infrastructure projects, suspend some of them, but eventually renew the engagement with Beijing
  3. Many Indo-Pacific nations have limited alternatives when it comes to infrastructure investment programmes and financing schemes
  4. It’s time to expand transparent, high-standard regional lending mechanisms — tools that will actually help nations instead of saddling them with mounting debt

Emphasis areas for India

India’s emphasis in the coming days must be three-fold

  1. To press ahead vigorously with the large number of infrastructure projects that it has undertaken with its own resources in the Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean
  2. To intensify the current discussions with the US, Japan, Europe and other partner countries to coordinate their regional infrastructure initiatives as well as take up joint projects in the Indo-Pacific
  3. Quickly find ways to overcome its many institutional limitations in implementing projects in other countries

What will this lead to?

  1. By demonstrating the possibility for sustainable infrastructure development, Delhi and its partners can improve the bargaining capacity of smaller countries vis-a-vis China
  2. This might eventually encourage Beijing to discard its predatory geoeconomics and turn the BRI into a genuinely cooperative venture
Sep, 21, 2017

[op-ed snap] A time of strategic partnerships

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue

Mains level: India- Japan relations



  • The India-Japan “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” has reached new heights.

Why such a partnership?

  • The rise of China and questions about America’s commitment in Asia are the main reasons behind deepening security-cum-economic relationship.

The India-Japan synergy

  1. Japan is investing heavily in strengthening its critical infrastructure to enhance its economic and potential defence capabilities.
  2. The two countries have begun working on a joint infrastructure development and connectivity drive
    • It traverses the Indian Ocean, from Myanmar to Sri Lanka to Iran and encompasses the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor
  3. On defence matters, Japan and India have agreed to establish regular consultations in the “2+2” format of their defence and foreign ministries.
  4. Their navies exercise regularly together with the U.S. Navy.
  5. Negotiations on arms sales ,the ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft are on
  6. Japanese investment in strategically placed Andaman and Nicobar Islands will help New Delhi establish a major security sentinel in the eastern Indian Ocean.

How Strategic partnerships differs from Alliances?

  1. Unlike alliances, it do not demand commitments to a partner’s disputes with other countries.
    • Eg: New Delhi does not take a strong position on Japan’s territorial disputes with China and Russia
  2. In Strategic partnership, both retain the flexibility to continue political engagement and economic cooperation with their common adversary.
  3. They avoid “entrapment”, or being dragged into a partner’s disputes and potentially into conflict
  4. Collaborative approach to strategic policies over a range of economic and military activities.
    • India and Japan, for instance, are not only moving forward on economic and defence cooperation but are also cooperating on other issues such as civil nuclear energy and Security Council reform.
  5. The aim of major strategic partnerships is to
    • Strengthen defences against marginal conflict
    • Convey a determination to stand up to a strategic adversary
    • Generate a persuasive environment that discourages potential intimidation
Sep, 19, 2017

India, Japan and U.S. present common front

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The article shows India stands on North Korea’s Nuclear issue. Also, it shows rising relationship among India, Japan and the US.


Trilateral Meeting in the US

  1. At a trilateral meeting of Foreign Ministers of India, Japan and the U.S. endorsed one another’s position on key strategic issues in Asia
  2. India stood with the U.S. and Japan on the question of North Korea’s nuclear posture
  3. And India received support from the two on its position on the China-led One Belt, One Road project (according to a press release)
  4. The Ministers emphasised the need for ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes(possibly in South China sea context)

Focus areas for India

  1. India’s Permanent Representative to the said climate change, terrorism, people-centric migration and peacekeeping will among the focus areas for India this year
Sep, 16, 2017

[op-ed snap] Three isn’t a crowd

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Malabar joint exercise

Mains level: India-Japan relations



  • Article talks about the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global partnership summit, and the highlights of the Joint statement between India and Japan

Concerns about China

  1. Even though the Doklam issue is resolved, it can happen again on the long unsettled border between the two countries, at a place and time of China’s choosing.
  2. Japan, which has its own troubles with China over territory, was the only country that openly articulated its support for India during those two troubled months
  3. Shinzo Abe recalled Japan’s own experience with China’s claims over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands as “very challenging”
  4. BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, where two Pakistan-based terror groups with animus toward India, Lashkar and Jaish, were named in the resolution 

The joint statement-Highlights

  1. It calls for a “rules-based order” in the Indo-Pacific region where “sovereignty and international law are respected, and differences resolved through dialogue
  2. And all countries, large or small, enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development, and a free, fair and open trade and investment system
  3. It took a swipe at China’s OBOR initiative by calling for transparency in the development of connectivity and infrastructure development in the region
  4. It reaffirmed the India-Japan project to connect Africa and Asia
  5. The statement condemns North Korea, but for the first time, includes “the importance of holding accountable all parties” that helped that country develop its nuclear programme.

The defence and security co-operation

  1. Malabar joint exercise the most high-profile representation of this.
  2. A new chapter of co-operation in relations in all spheres, from terrorism, defence, the bullet train, infrastructure development to nuclear co-operation
Sep, 15, 2017

Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe discussed Doklam: China in mind, India and Japan agree to deepen strategic ties

Image result for India- japan

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: US-2 amphibious aircraft, One Belt One Road project, Mapping-  Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

Mains level: India-Japan relation



  1. Article discusses about the highlights of meeting of Narendra Modi and  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
  2. India and Japan articulated their concerns on Pakistan-based terror groups, North Korea’s nuclear programme and China’s One Belt One Road project. 
  3. They dropped any direct mention of South China Sea in the joint statement but underlined the importance of a “free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region”.

Doklam standoff

  1.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the issue of the recent Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese troops.
  2. He recalled his own experience with China over claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, between 2012 and 2014, which had rocked bilateral ties between Tokyo and Beijing. 
  3. Abe complimented Prime Minister Narendra Modi for standing his ground on the Doklam standoff. And, then the two leaders spoke of their commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Defence cooperation

  1. The two sides agreed to cooperate on defence technology, including dual-use technology, and said they were in “serious discussions” on the US-2 amphibious aircraft
  2. On defence, they agreed to enhance defence and security cooperation and dialogues, including MALABAR and other joint exercises, defence equipment and technology cooperation in such areas as “surveillance and unmanned system technologies
  3. The joint statement said that the two Prime Ministers noted recent progress in bilateral cooperation on defence equipment and technology, including the commencement of the “technical discussion for the future research collaboration in the area of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotics”.
  4. They said they were cooperating on “surveillance” and “unmanned system technologies” in the defence sector — a clear reference to high-technology equipment for military purposes.

Pakistan-based terror groups

  1. The reference to Pakistan-based terror groups is a new addition to the joint statement
  2. It said that the two leaders looked forward to “strengthening cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including Al-Qaida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and their affiliates”.

North Korea’s nuclear programme

  1. The North Korean situation was reflected amply and elaborately in the statement, in view of Japan’s concerns.
  2. India too made common cause on the issue, and pointed to links between the Pakistan and Chinese nuclear programmes and the North Korean programme.
  3. They stressed the importance of holding accountable all parties that have supported North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes
  4. Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist A Q Khan shared high-technology and equipment with the North Korean regime which was also likely supported by Chinese technology and expertise

China’s One Belt One Road project. 

  1. Without naming China, the two leaders also took a strong position on the “One Belt One Road project”
  2. Underlining the importance of all countries ensuring the development and use of connectivity infrastructure in “an open, transparent and non-exclusive manner based on international standards and responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment
  3. The joint statement, however, reflected Japan’s “concerns” on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship project, almost identical to India’s statement on OBOR.
Sep, 14, 2017

[op-ed snap] Asia Africa Growth Corridor aims for people-centric growth strategy

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the AAGC

Mains level: It can be seen as a counter strategy against rising influence of China in African Continent.



  1. The article talks about the idea of an Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)
  2. This idea was emerged in the joint declaration issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November 2016

What is AAGC all about?

  1. The AAGC envisages a people-centric sustainable growth strategy
  2. The AAGC is an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India and Japan
  3. It engages various stakeholders- governments, firms, think tanks and civil society
  4. It would be raised on the four pillars of (1) development and cooperation projects, (2) quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity, (3) enhancing capacities and skills, and (4) people-to-people partnership
  5. The strengths of AAGC will be aligned with the development priorities of different countries and sub-regions of Asia and Africa
  6. AAGC-led growth in Africa and Asia will be responsive to the collective commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Trade Facilitation as a major component of AAGC Framework

  1. In a study conducted by the European Commission, it is found that the time taken for export and import activities is among the highest in Africa (excluding the northern region)
  2. Moreover, the documents required to export and import are also on the higher side in Africa
  3. According to OECD trade facilitation indicators, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are below the best practices
  4. However, achieving the desired level of trade facilitation is a challenging task for Africa and Asia because of lack of technical know-how and skills

India’s role in AAGC

  1. India has already made efforts through various initiatives to develop capabilities in other countries in Asia and Africa in the past
  2. Although many of them are not fully developed due to paucity of resources
  3. But we can re-energize such projects/initiatives through AAGC funding that could lead to promotion of imports and exports
  4. India must evolve appropriate strategy to meet import and export requirements of partner countries in the medium term

What is holding back the Growth in Africa?

  1. The low level of private investment in Africa is withholding high growth
  2. Owing to risky projects on long gestation projects, there has been lukewarm response from investors
  3. Possible Solution: Private investors may be attracted by using limited state funding using the European Investment Fund (EIF) Model
  4. The EIF consists of subsidizing investment, loss protection, capital relief, reduced interest rate, low collateral requirements, lease and guarantee

The Way forward

  1. Working closely with the international community, the Asia Africa Growth Corridor will be instrumental in realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific region
  2. As a unique process, AAGC takes a multi-stakeholder as well as participatory approach towards development
Sep, 14, 2017

[op-ed snap] The case for alliance

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

 ” With the rise of China and uncertainty over America’s role in Asia, India must move more closer to Japan ” Critically comment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-Japan relation



  • Rise of China and uncertainty over America’s role in Asia has brought Japan and India closer


  1. Japan was the only nation extended public support to India during the Doklam confrontation with China
  2. In the aftermath of India’s nuclear tests, Tokyo was at the forefront of the international condemnation and the imposition of collective economic measures against Delhi.
  3. But now Japan has come closest to being India’s natural ally in Asia.

Factors that are threatening to unravel the post-war order in Asia.

  1. Rapid rise of China: Purposeful military modernisation over the last few decades has given Beijing levers to contest US military dominance over Asia.
  2. Growing uncertainty over America’s future role in Asia

Rising China

  1. Rising China has dethroned Japan as the number one economic power in Asia.
  2. China’s GDP is now five times larger than that of India.
  3. Beijing outspends Delhi and Tokyo on defence by more than four times. According to the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, China’s defence budget ($216 billion) is more than twice that of India ($56 billion) and Japan ($46 billion) put together

Uncertainty over America’s role in Asia

  1. President Donald Trump is challenging the two foundations of America’s post-war primacy in Asia
    • The willingness to act as the market for Asian goods
    • Defending its allies in the region, including Japan.
  2. As they cope with China’s assertiveness, India and Japan also worry about the consequences of a potential American retrenchment or a deliberate decision in Washington to cede more space to Beijing in Asia.
  3. Delhi and Tokyo also need to insure against wild oscillations in US policy. One way of doing that is to move towards a genuine alliance between India and Japan.

Alliance between India and Japan

  1. It can neither replace the American might nor contain China.
  2. As Beijing’s neighbours, they have a big stake in a cooperative relationship with Beijing and also a strong incentive to temper some of China’s unilateralism through a regional balance of power system
  3. The cooperation between India-Japan is increasing through civil nuclear agreement, high speed railway development, and modernisation of transport infrastructure in the Northeast.
  4. Tokyo and Delhi have expanded their maritime security cooperation, agreed to work together in promoting connectivity and infrastructure in third countries in India’s neighbourhood.

Defence partnership?

  1. Without a significant defence relationship, the talk of an alliance between India and Japan remains meaningless.
  2. Although military exchanges expanded over the last few years, the two sides are far from a credible defence partnership that can shape the regional security architecture in the coming decades.
  3. That negotiations on India’s purchase of Japanese amphibious aircraft, US-2i, have been stuck for years underlines part of the problem.
  4. It is necessary to overcome the bureaucratic inertia that limits the defence possibilities between India and Japan.
Sep, 12, 2017

Firm signal on bullet train project

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Example of Rising Indo-Japanese Relationship


Inauguration of the Rail Project

  1. Both Countries will lay the groundwork for the next level of collaboration during the annual summit meeting
  2. The high point of the visit(of Japanese PM) was likely to be the joint inauguration of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project and bilateral security dialogue
  3. The two leaders will review the recent progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’

High Speed Railway Training Institute

  1. The High Speed Railway Training Institute will be set up in Vadodara
Nov, 15, 2016

[op-ed snap] India’s Act East Policy

  1. Takeaways from Japan visit: Supporting India’s membership in NSG, rationalising Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train timeline,easing of Indian student visas,
  2. Training of 30,000 Indians in Japanese-style manufacturing practices, and merging of India’s “Act East Policy” with Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”
  3. Japan has, for the first time signed nuclear agreement with a non-NPT signatory
  4. Japanese sought: free and open investment climate, relaxation of land acquisition policies
  5. Reiterated their commitment to respect freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, based on the UNCLOS
  6. Bilateral defence ties get a boost with New Delhi’s decision to buy 12 US-2i amphibious aircrafts
  7. Tokyo is stepping up infrastructure investment in India with two sides taking forward Japanese investment in India’s development of Chabahar port in Iran
  8. US-India-Japan trilateral engagement: convergence of India’s Act East policy, Japan’s growing focus on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and the Obama strategic rebalance towards Indo-Pacific
  9. Trilateral configurations also emerging with Japan, Australia and India interacting at a regional level
Nov, 14, 2016

[op-ed snap] Indian PM has signed the nuclear cooperation agreement in Tokyo

  1. Advantages: for India’s renewable energy plans
  2. Japanese companies that produce reactor technology were previously not allowed to supply parts to India
  3. Japanese companies have significant holdings in their U.S. and French partners will negotiate for nuclear reactors now
  4. Japan’s first nuclear deal with a non-signatory to the NPT and it recognises India’s exemplary record in nuclear prudence
  5. Will boost the dipping bilateral trade and lift the strategic military and defence relationship
  6. Riders: Nuclear deal has to be approved by Japan’s Parliament
  7. An emergency suspension of the deal if India tests a weapon
  8. Abe must ensure that the commercial agreement for Westinghouse’s six reactors in Andhra Pradesh that is due in June 2017 comes through
  9. China has been hedging against deeper Japan-India ties by investing in its relationship with Russia and Pakistan
Nov, 14, 2016

Deal or no deal? India, Japan wrangle over N-pact note I

  1. Indian and Japanese officials continued to wrangle over the legality of a document signed as part of the recent nuclear deal
  2. The document indicates a link between nuclear testing and the cancellation of the deal
  3. Indian view: Government sources say the document is “not legally binding”
  4. Japanese view: The document had been signed by the nuclear negotiators in the presence of PM’s Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi, and hence “legally binding.”
  5. The note in question contains contentious clauses that effectively allow Japan to invoke an “emergency” suspension of supplies if India were to test a nuclear weapon
  6. It could also contest any compensation claims from India in court
Nov, 12, 2016

Japan has option to scrap N-deal

  1. Event: India on Friday signed a historic civilian nuclear deal with Japan during the annual bilateral summit held in Tokyo
  2. The nuclear deal which will help India access Japan’s nuclear market, had been under negotiation for 6 years
  3. India is the first non-member of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) to have signed such a deal with Japan
  4. The deal is significant as it will help guarantee Japan’s continued support to India’s civil nuclear programme
  5. Both sides also signed nine agreements including one on cooperation between ISRO and JAXA in outer space
Nov, 11, 2016

India-Japan nuclear deal: Will India accept a nullification clause? II

  1. India maintains a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing
  2. But it has thus far refused to sign on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
  3. It has also not given any other undertaking outside of its commitments at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  4. But, Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack has special sensitivities
  5. India may need to make an exception for Japan, despite India’s insistence on nuclear sovereignty
  6. Another factor is Japan’s critical position in nuclear supplies to India
  7. Although India has a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel, all planned reactors including those from France and the U.S. and other than existing Russian reactors depend largely on Japanese parts
Nov, 11, 2016

India-Japan nuclear deal: Will India accept a nullification clause? I

  1. Event: PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe prepare to discuss the conclusion of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement
  2. Issue: Whether India will accept a “nullification” or “termination” clause
  3. The deal, which will open up access for India to cutting edge nuclear energy technology, reactors and critical parts, has been held up for years over the clause
  4. The clause stipulates that the deal would be cancelled if India were to conduct a nuclear test
Oct, 05, 2016

[op-ed snap] Clinching the N-deal with Japan

  1. Theme: Upcoming civil nuclear agreement with Japan.
  2. Significance of the upcoming agreement: Japan is the only country to have been the victim of a nuclear attack, and its decision to sign an agreement with India, a country that has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), would be a first.
  3. Significance for India: Given the strong domestic reservations in Japan against nuclear energy, Tokyo’s support to the deal so far is an indication of the importance it accords to relations with India.
  4. It would convey a message of trust to the Nuclear Suppliers Group members and hopefully help in acceptance of India’s membership.
  5. Japanese nuclear energy technology and safety parameters are widely considered to be cutting-edge, and many critical parts needed for Indian reactors are made by Japanese manufacturers. These will not be available to India until the agreement is done.
  6. Even the U.S. civil nuclear deal, that is yet to be actualised, is contingent on the deal with Japan.
  7. Post-Fukushima, Japanese manufacturers can be expected to be more generous with India on the liability issue, given their own experience with the enormous cost of cleaning up.
  8. Sticking points in the past: India’s refusal to sign the NPT, as it considers the treaty unfair to the developing world.
  9. The Japanese insistence on a “nullification” clause that the agreement would cease as soon as India tests.
Oct, 03, 2016

N-deal with Japan ‘ready’ to be sealed

  1. When? Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan later this year
  2. Background: The India-Japan nuclear agreement has been under discussion since 2008
  3. Abe (2015 India visit): Need to complete necessary internal procedures- clearing the deal in the Japanese parliament (Diet)
  4. For the past few years, this has been difficult given deep sensitivities in Japan on nuclear proliferation, and political instability in parliament
  5. However, Diet is now expected to clear the agreement within time, before PM Modi’s Japan visit
  6. This indicates a breakthrough on several contentious issues including a controversial nullification clause
Jul, 13, 2016

India and Japan- farm products and service professionals- 2

  1. Services: India, with a large resource pool of professional nurses, is keen to expedite the signing of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)
  2. MRA to be signed between the Indian Nursing Council and its Japanese counterpart to ensure that Japan accepts Indian qualified nurses and certified care-workers
  3. As per the CEPA, it was decided that Japan will conclude negotiations with India in this regard by 2013-end, but there has been a delay
  4. Japan is learnt to be reluctant to allow Indian nurses
Jul, 13, 2016

India and Japan- farm products and service professionals- 1

  1. News: India will seek greater market access in the Japanese market for its farm products such as sesame seeds as well as for its services professionals including nurses
  2. Upcoming meeting is that of India-Japan Joint Committee- a panel set up following the signing of the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2011
  3. Proposal: India will be pushing a proposal asking Japan to bring its big general trading companies to India for bulk purchase of sesame seeds (locally known as till)
  4. Context: Following the detection of pesticides and insecticides (DDT, malathion) in some sesame seeds consignments from India over two decades ago, Japan has been reluctant to import seasame from India
  5. Japan is the world’s second largest importer of sesame and India is the world’s largest sesame seed producer and also the world’s largest exporter
  6. Use: Sesame seeds are used in Japanese cuisine whereas the oil and its by-products are used in a wide range of applications including cooking, soaps, perfumes, pharmaceuticals and poultry feed
Mar, 14, 2016

India collaborates with Japan on Andamans project

  1. News: India and Japan are in talks to collaborate on upgrading civilian infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an Indian archipelago
  2. Context: This move seen as a critical asset to counter China’s efforts to expand its maritime reach into the Indian Ocean
  3. First project: a 15-megawatt diesel power plant on South Andaman Island
  4. Significance: Andaman and Nicobar Islands are northwest of Strait of Malacca, offering control of a so-called choke point that is one of China’s greatest marine vulnerabilities
  5. Testimony to: Unfolding relationship between India and Japan, which also funding a $744 million road building project in Northeastern(N-E) border regions of Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya
  6. Relevance: Japan’s marshalling of official development assistance in the region has drawn less attention than the effort that China calls OBOR
  7. Bid to counter China’s efforts to expand its maritime reach into the Indian Ocean
Dec, 14, 2015

India and Japan ink 3 agreements for cooperation in Railway Sector

  1. One MoU is on cooperation and assistance in the Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project.
  2. Japan has offered an assistance of over Rs.79,000 crore for the project.
  3. The project is a 508 km railway line costing a total of Rs. 97,636 crore, to be implemented in a period of 7 years.
  4. It has been agreed that Shinkansen Technology will be adopted for the project.
  5. Two more comprehensive technological cooperation agreements signed for modernization and upgradation of Indian Railways.
Dec, 12, 2015

India, Japan sign protocol to amend tax pact

  1. India and Japan signed an agreement to amend the convention for double taxation avoidance and prevention of evasion of income tax.
  2. The pact provides for internationally-accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters, including bank information.
  3. The information received from Japan in respect of an Indian resident can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorisation of the competent authority of Japan and vice versa.
  4. It is envisaged that both India and Japan will lend assistance to each other on collection of revenue claims.
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