Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[pib] JIMEX 20


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : JIMEX 20

Mains level : Not Much

The 4th edition of India – Japan Maritime bilateral exercise JIMEX will be held in the North Arabian Sea from 26 to 28 September 2020.


  • It is conducted biennially between the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)
  • This series of exercises was commenced in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation.
  • The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in October 2018 off Visakhapatnam, India.
  • JIMEX 20 will showcase a high degree of inter-operability and joint operational skills through the conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the spectrum of maritime operations.
  • Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings cross deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies.
  • JIMEX 20 will further enhance the cooperation and mutual confidence between the two navies and fortify the long-standing bond of friendship between the two countries.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SCRI

Mains level : Global trade tensions with China and its repercussions

With COVID-19 and trade tensions between China and the US threatening supply chains or actually causing bottlenecks, Japan has mooted the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) as a trilateral approach to trade, with India and Australia as the other two partners.

Q.Discuss the efficacy of the idea of Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) initiaited by Japan.

What is Supply Chain Resilience (SCR)?

  • In the context of international trade, SCR is an approach that helps a country to ensure that it has diversified its supply risk across a clutch of supplying nations instead of being dependent on just one or a few.
  • Unanticipated events whether natural or man-made that disrupt supplies from a particular country or even intentional halts to trade, could adversely impact economic activity in the destination country.

What is Japan proposing?

  • The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the assembly lines which are heavily dependent on supplies from one country.
  • While Japan exported $135 billion worth of goods to China in 2019, it also imported $169 billion worth from the world’s second-largest economy, accounting for 24% of its total imports.
  • So, any halt to supplies could potentially impair economic activity in Japan.
  • In addition, the U.S.-China trade tensions have caused alarm in Japanese trade circles for a while now.
  • If the world’s two largest economies do not resolve their differences, it could threaten globalisation as a whole and have a major impact on Japan.
  • It is heavily reliant on international trade both for markets for its exports and for supplies of a range of primary goods from oil to iron ore.

Japan eyeing India as a partner for the SCRI

  • Japan is the fourth-largest investor in India with cumulative FDIs touching $33.5 billion in the 2000-2020 periods.
  • It accounts for 7.2% of inflows in that period, according to quasi-government agency India Invest.
  • Imports from Japan into India more than doubled over 12 years to $12.8 billion in FY19. Exports from India to the world’s third-largest economy stood at $4.9 billion that year, data from the agency showed.
  • It is a clear reflection that the two countries are unlikely to allow individual cases to cloud an otherwise long-standing and deepening trade relationship.

Where does Australia stand?

  • Australia, Japan and India are already part of another informal grouping, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, which includes the U.S.
  • Media reports indicate that China has been Australia’s largest trading partner and that it counts for 32.6% of Australia’s exports, with iron ore, coal and gas dominating the products shipped to Asia’s largest economy.
  • But relations including trade ties between the two have been deteriorating for a while now.
  • China banned beef imports from four Australian firms in May and levied import tariffs on Australian barley.

India’s stand to gain or lose

  • Following the border tensions, partners such as Japan have sensed that India may be ready for dialogue on alternative supply chains.
  • Earlier, India would have done little to overtly antagonize China. But an internal push to suddenly cut links with China would be impractical.
  • China’s share of imports into India in 2018 stood at 14.5%. It supplies dominate segments of the Indian economy.
  • Sectors that have been impacted by supply chain issues arising out of the pandemic include pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, electronics, shipping, chemicals and textiles.
  • Over time, if India enhances self-reliance or works with exporting nations other than China, it could build resilience into the economy’s supply networks.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

The wilting Sakura


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- New avenues for cooperation between India and Japan.


A resilient nation, Japan has risen from the ashes, phoenix-like, each time. It is now confronting COVID-19, which has wreaked havoc on global financial and economic systems and disrupted production, supply chains and markets.

The cruise ship incident and no reprieve to the Japanese from Covid-19

  • COVID-19 received a high-rating televised start in Japan with the cruise ship, Diamond Princess, steaming into Tokyo Bay with 3,711 passengers on board and quickly being quarantined.
  • Over the next month, with more than 700 cases of infection on-board, it remained the single-largest cluster outside China.
  • Gradually, as numbers swelled exponentially elsewhere and the incidence of new cases remained low locally, the Japanese went back to their ways, with holiday crowds celebrating the annual Hanami (sakura viewing) season in idyllic spots
  • It seemed as if the Japanese had dodged the bullet even as it delayed until April 3 the blocking of tourists from 70-odd countries, including China, which accounted for nearly 9.6 million tourists in 2019, one-third of the total.
  • With new infections mounting in recent days, the reprieve, it seems, was as ephemeral as the bloom of the sakura.

Postponing the Olympics

  • The biggest collateral damage of the fresh wave of COVID-19 infections in Japan is the belated decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.
  • It reminded the nation of the jinxed Olympics of 1940, which Japan was to host but fell victim to the Second Sino-Japanese War.
  • If the 1940 Olympics were intended to showcase Japan’s industrial and economic resurrection after the devastation of the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, the 1964 Tokyo Olympics had symbolised the economic miracle in Japan after the ravages of the Second World War.
  • The 2020 Olympics, dubbed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the “Recovery and Reconstruction Games”, were to demonstrate Japan’s mojo in the aftermath of the 2011 Triple Disaster.
  • Reports indicate that Japan has already spent $12.6 billion on the preparations for the Olympics.
  • Nikkei and Goldman Sachs estimate that the postponement of the games would easily set Japan back by another $5-6 billion.

Impact on economy

  • Recession in the world: The pandemic could not have come at a worse time. The IMF has confirmed that COVID-19 has pushed the global economy into a recession, potentially much worse than the one in 2009.
  • The Japanese economy now faces the daunting prospect of a sharp contraction, with the OECD Report for March 2020 forecasting its GDP growth at 0.2 per cent in 2020.
  • Even before the global pandemic struck, Japan was dealing with the adverse effects on consumer spending of the hike in consumption tax from 8 per cent to 10 per cent.
  • Dwindling demand from China, where Japan has huge economic stakes, can only worsen the regional economic outlook already strained by US-China trade friction.
  • Abe’s decision this week to declare a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures, alongside the release of a gargantuan stimulus package worth nearly $1 trillion, including cash doles and financial support to households and businesses, may help turn the tide.
  • However, providing healthcare to a rapidly ageing population in the face of an abrupt disruption in the sizeable inward flow of foreign care-givers will prove a daunting challenge.
  • Meanwhile, several prefectures that depend heavily on tourism from China and the Republic of Korea have suffered deep losses.

Impact on Japan’s international commitments and initiatives

  • As one of the world’s richest countries, Japan can perhaps hope to cushion itself from such blows.
  • Whether the economic distress unleashed by COVID-19 also adversely impacts some of Japan’s commitments to its Official Development Assistance (ODA) or outlays for regional infrastructure and connectivity under flagship programmes such as the Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (EPQI), the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) and the Indo-Pacific Business Forum, including the Blue Dot Network and LNG projects, remains to be seen.
  • This could well be true of the US too, in the context of the International Development Finance Corporation under the BUILD Act, aimed at countering China’s expanding writ across the region.

Implications for Indo-Pacific region

  • The pandemic could have broader implications for military postures in the Indo-Pacific.
  • As it was seen in the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus onboard the US Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt, which had sailed from San Diego in January for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment.
  • It is at the centre of a controversy involving the sacking of its captain and the vessel’s ill-advised port visit to Da Nang in Vietnam earlier in March despite the high risk of contagion.
  • Of course, China’s PLA Navy (PLAN) could well be grappling with similar problems out at sea but, unlike in the democratic world, these facts will be treated as “state secrets”.
  • Opportunity for China to further its influence: As China gradually recovers from the pandemic, relatively earlier and faster than the West, Beijing’s “charm offensive” and leveraging of its deep pockets may help it to further its geopolitical influence.
  • Its assistance to developing countries in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 will create new scope to proselytise its governance and development models.

India-Japan relations

  • Japan-China relations: A high-profile casualty of the pandemic is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s long-pending visit to Tokyo.
  • But Japan’s “mask diplomacy” and generous assistance to China at the start of the pandemic augur well for Sino-Japanese ties, which have improved in recent years, their inveterate differences notwithstanding.
  • India visit by Japan: Abe’s postponed visit to India, earlier scheduled to take place at the end of 2019, will be hard to resurrect before the pandemic is completely under control.
  • Nevertheless, the fundamental convergence of interests and the extraordinary political capital invested in the relationship by both PM Modi and Abe in recent years ensures that the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan will remain robust.
  • New vistas for India-Japan cooperation: The pandemic opens up new vistas for cooperation in healthcare, non-traditional security and global governance, including reform of the UN and affiliated bodies such as the WHO whose contributions in the battle against COVID-19 are moot.

How Japan tackled the pandemic so far?

  • So far, Japan had relied on its customary discipline and prevention methods, with an exhortation to the public to avoid the “three Cs” — closed spaces, crowded places and conversations at close proximity.
  • No lockdown: Japan has shied away from taking the bold approach that Modi took in announcing a 21-day nationwide lockdown.
  • The declaration of a state of emergency covering the megacities of Tokyo and Osaka and some prefectures would give local governors in the hardest-hit areas greater legal authority to impose curbs, albeit without the power to impose penalties.
  • Japan’s case-by-case approach to the reopening of schools by regional authorities has been criticised.
  • There have been calls for a strict lockdown before it is too late to avert the same fate as Italy, Spain and the US.
  • In a race to develop vaccine: With formidable scientific prowess at its disposal, Japan remains at the forefront in the race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.


Prime Minister Abe is viewed by voters as a leader capable of taking bold decisions. If Abe’s administration overcomes the COVID-19 crisis despite the odds and succeeds in staving off a recession, there is every chance that the LDP might again amend its rules to grant him a fourth term. After all, it is not easy for any of his political rivals to step into his shoes in the middle of such a crisis.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[op-ed snap] Scripting another Asian narrative

Image Source


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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[op-ed snap] The confluence of two seas

Image source


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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[op-ed snap] A time of strategic partnerships

Image result for India japan strategic partnerships

Image source


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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

India, Japan and U.S. present common front

Image Source


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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[op-ed snap] Three isn’t a crowd

 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: 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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

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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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

[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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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
  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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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.
  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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

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.
  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.

In the context of 21st Century, among all the bilateral relations, Indo-Japan relations have all the potential to transcend this era into an ‘Asian century’.

This relationship, which incorporates no dispute- ideological, cultural or territorial, was embarked upon in 6th century A.D. when Bhuddhism was introduced in Japan.

Direct exchange in modern times commenced only in Maiji era (1868-1912), when Japan set off the process of modernization. Japanese support and assistance to Netaji and INA continue to persist in popular imagination.

Although diplomatic relations between two countries were established in 1952, it was only in august 2000 when Japanese PM Yoshiro Mori and his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpeyi set in motion ‘Global partnership in 21st century’.

Commonalities such as shared democratic values, commitment to human rights, pluralism, open society and rule of law are foundation blocks of this global partnership.


During World War II

Since India was under British rule when World War II broke out, it was deemed to have entered the war on the side of the Allies. Over 2 million Indians participated in the war; many served in combat against the Japanese who conquered Burma and reached the Indian border.

Some 67,000 Indian soldiers were captured by the Japanese when Singapore surrendered in 1942, many of whom later became part of the Indian National Army (INA). In 1944-45, the combined British and Indian forces defeated the Japanese in a series of battles in Burma and the INA disintegrated.

Indian National Army

  • Subhas Chandra Bose, who led the Azad Hind, a nationalist movement which aimed to end the British raj through military means, used Japanese sponsorship to form the Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army (INA).
  • The INA was composed mainly of former prisoners of war from the British Indian Army who had been captured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. They joined primarily because of the very harsh, often fatal conditions in POW camps. The INA also recruited volunteers from Indian expatriates in Southeast Asia. Bose was eager for the INA to participate in any invasion of India, and persuaded several Japanese that a victory such as Mutaguchi anticipated would lead to the collapse of British rule in India.
  • The idea that their western boundary would be controlled by a more friendly government was attractive. Japan never expected India to be part of its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
  • The Japanese Government built, supported and controlled the Indian National Army and the Indian Independence League.. Japanese forces included INA units in many battles, most notably at the U Go Offensive at Manipur. The offensive culminated in Battles of Imphal and Kohima where the Japanese forces were pushed back and the INA lost cohesion.

Modern relations

  • At the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Indian Justice Radhabinod Pal became famous for his dissenting judgement in favour of Japan. The judgement of Justice Radhabinod Pal is remembered even today in Japan. This became a symbol of the close ties between India and Japan.
  • A relatively well-known result of the two nations’ was in 1949, when India sent the Tokyo Zoo two elephants to cheer the spirits of the defeated Japanese empire.
  • India refused to attend the San Francisco Peace Conference in 1951 due to its concerns over limitations imposed upon Japanese sovereignty and national independence. After the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty, Japan and India signed a peace treaty, establishing official diplomatic relations on 28 April 1952, in which India waived all reparation claims against Japan.
  • This treaty was one of the first treaties Japan signed after World War II. Diplomatic, trade, economic, and technical relations between India and Japan were well established. India’s iron ore helped Japan’s recovery from World War II devastation, and following Japanese Prime MinisterNobusuke Kishi’s visit to India in 1957, Japan started providing yen loans to India in 1958, as the first yen loan aid extended by Japanese government. Relations between the two nations were constrained, however, by Cold War politics.
  • Japan, as a result of World War II reconstruction, was a U.S. ally, whereas India pursued a non-aligned foreign policy, often leaning towards the Soviet Union. Since the 1980s, however, efforts were made to strengthen bilateral ties.
  • India’s ‘Look East’ policy posited Japan as a key partner. Since 1986, Japan has become India’s largest aid donor, and remains so.
  • Relations between the two nations reached a brief low in 1998 as a result of Pokhran-II, an Indian nuclear weapons test that year. Japan imposed sanctions on India following the test, which included the suspension of all political exchanges and the cutting off of economic assistance. These sanctions were lifted three years later. Relations improved exponentially following this period, as bilateral ties between the two nations improved once again, to the point where the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe was to be the chief guest at India’s 2014 Republic Day parade.

Complementarities: Why are both important to each other?

  • Varied factors have supported momentum of this partnership viz. India’s economic resurgence, its engagement with USA and its increasing interest and stakes in East Asia in the form of Look East Policy in 1992 and Act East Asia Policy in 2015.
  • On similar lines, for Japan, India has emerged as an alternative economic partner and important constituent of Asia’s emerging security order.
  • A transition of power is unfolding in Asian continent and the shape and substance of Indo-Japan relationship is one of its spin-off. Notwithstanding, strengthening of the Indo-Japan relations is not the only consequence of rise of china and USA’s shifting of regional policy in the form of “Rebalancing of Asia”.
  • Factors like domestic perception of the alliance partner, which is amicable, have stimulated this relationship. Japanese perception of India has also been molded by the dissenting opinion of Radha Binod Pal- the Indian judge at famous Tokyo trials – who declined to convict Japan’s top military brass as war criminal proving that Japan’s imperial history has been discounted by Indian consciousness.
  • In addition to this, personal bonding between Japanese PM and his Indian counterpart, who are leading single party majority government in respective countries, is a class by itself.

Cooperation in Various Domains:

Strategic cooperation

Increment in china’s military expenditure was almost one and half times bigger in 2014 than defense outlay in 2010. This expansion is a cause of concern for both countries, since both countries are engaged in negotiation with China over Arunachal Pradesh (India) and Shenkaku Island (Japan).

New Delhi and Tokyo are apt to hedge against USA’s possible failure in containing china’s growing assertiveness in the region in the backdrop of this era of power transition. This hedging strategy can be analyzed in three main categories-

  • Firstly, increasing bilateral defence partnership against fear of American retrenchment,
  • Secondly, economic engagement against an over-dependence on china and
  • Finally, multilateral hedge against China’s rising influence in international and regional institutions.

Defence Cooperation

In the sphere of defence, in 2009, 2+2 dialogue (foreign and defence ministerial) were initiated. India has always supported freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters in sync with UNCLOS vis-à-vis South China Sea dispute and East China Sea issue.

India invited Japanese navy to participate in annual Malabar exercise in 2014 with USA in pacific waters, reviving an earlier practice of joint India-USA-Japan trilateral exercise.

Negotiations on possible trade in defence equipments from Japan, as per Tokyo deceleration, are in the pipeline. Indian interest is in Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft for surveillance purpose in the Indian Ocean is high. If this deal is realized then it will signify for the first time Japanese export of defence goods and technology since World War II.

Can we collaborate in Defence?

Collaborative projects in defence equipment and technology is under consideration.

Tokyo has lifted ban on six Indian firms involved in defence R&D blacklisted after 1998 nuclear test, commencing towards transfer of Japanese military technology.

Tokyo declaration of 2014 underscores the significance of strategic cooperation between two of Asia’s largest maritime democracies and castigates states indulging in expansionist policies in the region.

In 2010 china accounted for 28% of total military spending in Asia. Its share has increased to 38% by 2014. Its DF-21d anti-ship ballistic missile is capable of targeting the entire South China Sea, Malacca Strait, most of Bay of Bengal and parts of Arabian Sea.

After south Korea and USA jointly announced they would deploy USA Missile Defence System Terminal High Altitude Area Defence(THAAD) in South Korea in 2016 in order to devise a fitting line of regional deterrence , Japan is rushing forward to do the same.

These strategic maneuvers dictate steps in the direction of balance of power in Asian continent, which is tilting in favor of China.

Change in Article 9

Japan has revised Article 9 of its Constitution to allow Japan’s self-defence forces to act more like a conventional army.

The clause forbids Japan from using force to settle international disputes and restricts its land, air and naval forces to a strictly defensive role.

Japan has scrapped the article to reform its pacifist, post-WW-II constitution to develop its military for collective self defence.

Balance of military power and ever accentuating territorial and recourse nationalism in Asia has paved intensification of strategic cooperation between India and Japan.

Although Japan controls Senkaku island, its sovereignty has been aggressively contested by China, as is evident in Beijing’s decision to establish an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the Eastern Asia in Nov. 2013.

China’s Aggressiveness

Chinese revisionism is also evident in South China Sea (SCS) where Beijing claims ownership over “Nine Dash Line” which if established by force, would entail that almost all of the SCS will be the exclusive economic zone of China.

SCS is endowed with fossil fuels and vital for merchant and international free navigation given the fact that 71% international cargo passes through this region.

Hague Arbitration Tribunal in Phillipines V/S China case in 2016 rejected China’s claim Of Nine Dash Line and the historic rights of Middle Kingdom off the hand. But China does not subscribe to UNCLOS, adding to tensions in the region.

On the Himalayan side, transgressions in Demchok, Ladakh, Chumar and Depsang areas tell a story of territorial hunger of China.

Although India-China relations look normal but distrust lingers deep within, which is a fallout of 4000 km. long Himalayan border dispute resulting from 1962 war.

Indian side has suspicion for huge investment sponsored by china in developing port and deep underwater ports (which can be used for military purpose) in India’s neighborhood through Maritime Silk Route Project.

This is owing to the fact that it resembles China’s earlier policy of “String of Pearls” theory – encirclement of India through a series of ports in different maritime countries in India’s neighbourhood.

Development of Kyaukphu port and deep underwater port at Maday island (Arakan coast ) in Myanmar nearby North East region of India and development of Gwadhar port in Pakistan near Western India is supposed to be a part of this grand scheme.

In addition to this, Great Coco Island and Little Coco Island are controlled by Myanmar. Since the early 1990s, there have been frequent reports of China using those islands for military and naval purposes but there is no certain proof of whether the islands are actually under Chinese control.

Thus, Chinese presence on the Coco Islands, developing intelligence systems and other naval facilities, is unnerving for nearby India.

While it is yet not certain whether the Great Coco island hosts Chinese intelligence systems, there is greater acknowledgement on the building of runways and other connectivity infrastructure on the Cocos.

This represents an array of attempts by China to intrude into the Indian ocean region to surround India from all four corners.

Economic cooperation

For 2011-12 India-Japan bilateral trade stood at $18.31 billion. The comprehensive trade pact between India and Japan aims to double bilateral trade nearly to $25 billion.

Japan is looking to boost trade and investment ties with India. The reasons behind this interest in India is obvious. India offers a large domestic market base.

Besides, mutual synergies between businesses in the two countries are driving initiatives-

  • Firstly, Japan’s ageing population (23% above 65 years) and India’s youthful dynamism (over 50% below 25 years)
  • Secondly, Japan is a relatively labour scarce, capital abundant country that complements India’s rich spectrum of human capital.
  • Thirdly, India’s prowess in the software sector lends synergy to Japan’s excellence in the hardware sector
  • Fourthly India’s abundance of raw materials and minerals matches well with Japan’s capabilities in technology and capital to produce knowledge-intensive manufactured goods
  • Fifthly India’s large domestic market has been the main factor for investments by Japanese companies.
  • Sixthly Japanese small and medium enterprises have begun to discover India as the new growth market.

The majority of investments are in traditional fields like machinery, automobiles and auto parts . Japan and India share a common vision for the world. This is aptly illustrated by the fact that there has been an increase in the number of joint declarations, delegation visits and other business events between the two countries.

India Japan CEPA

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Japan came into force in August 2011.Despite this agreement India-Japan bilateral trade stands at measly USD16 billion as compared to Sino-Indian trade amounting to USD 70 billion and Sino-Japanese trade at whooping amount of USD 343 billion in 2014 .

The agreement had two major concerns, namely: the infrastructure in India, and non-tariff barriers in Japan. On the infrastructure front, the two countries are collaborating on the huge, US $90-billion Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project.

The project agreement appears highly promising in the environment of the new manufacturing policy whereby India is targeting to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25 percent within a decade, potentially creating 100 million jobs.

Japan had invested in dedicated freight corridor west project, strategic port facility in Chennai, development of strategic assets including highways and dams in North East Region where India’s immediate neighbor is eyeing for territorial expansion.

Japan has set up multi product SEZ and clusters, custom free and warehousing zones ( in Neemrana in Rajsthan ) leading to greater economic integration in Asia. In 2014 Kyoto-Kashi pact was signed between two countries wherein Kashi became as popular as ‘city of ten-thousand shrines’ in ‘land of rising sun’.

Under this agreement Kyoto and Kashi will prepare a detailed roadmap for making Kashi a ‘smart city’, retaining its rich culture,tradition and heritage.

Tariff & Non Tariff barriers – an obstruction?

  • An important factor affecting Indo-Japan trade is the tariff and non- tariff barriers imposed by both countries. Japan has placed import prohibitions and quantitative restrictions on imports from India, for example, on fish and silk items.
  • Japan’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) are major barriers to Indian exports of poultry, meat, shrimps and fruits like mangoes and grapes. This issue highlights the need for sharing and facilitating the exchange of technology under the agreement to promote Indian exports to Japan.
  • Engaging Japan economically is important as India is biggest recipient of Japan’s ODA. India is also premium destinations for foreign direct investment from Japan.
  • Attracting Japanese investment, technology and business is crucial for transforming India into Asia’s new production line. There is a strategic rationale behind economic engagement of India with Japan.
  • India is far more comfortable with Japanese businesses investing in development of strategic assets of infrastructure but Chinese investment in infrastructure is seen with concerns and suspicions due to security reasons and mistrust, even when such investment can resolve some of the trade imbalance of India with china.
  • For Japan economic partnership is shaped by realpolitik too. Japanese investment was very vital for Chinese miracle as china has been highest recipient of Japanese aid between 1980-2003. Greater economic integration with china has not translated into political trust between two countries, hence boundary disputes has escalated.
  • During Indian Pm visit to Japan 2014 two countries have announced ‘India-Japan Investment Promotion Partnership’. Japan has promised to invest more than USD 35 billion in India.
  • ODA and private investment is biggest foreign investment by any single country into India. Substantial contract on export of rare earth minerals from India to Japan is on anvil, which would offset Japan’s reliance on china for supply.
  • Both India and Japan are concerned that their growing economic interdependence on China might make the Indian and Japanese economies more vulnerable to Beijing’s economic coercion.
  • Secondly, both the nations are exasperated by china’s strategy of deploying surrogates in East and South Asia primarily North Korea and Pakistan, to wear both the countries out.
  • The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a USD 45 billion project traversing through highly sensitive Karakoram border region of India is one of the examples.

India-Japan Economic and Commercial Cooperation

  • Complementarities between the two countries
  • Japan’s ageing population (23% above 65 years) and India’s youthful dynamism (over 50% below 25 years);
  • India’s rich natural and human resources and Japan’s advanced technology;
  • India’s prowess in services and Japan’s excellence in manufacturing;
  •  Japan’s surplus capital for investments and India’s large and growing markets and the middle class.
  • The signing of the historic India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and its implementation from August 2011 is expected to further accelerate growth of trade, economic and commercial relations between the two countries.
  • Japan has been extending bilateral loan and grant assistance to India since 1958. Japan is the largest bilateral donor to India. Japanese ODA supports India’s efforts for accelerated economic development particularly in priority areas like power, transportation, environmental projects and projects related to basic human needs. For example New Delhi metro network. The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor with eight new industrial townships, The Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) India’s primary exports to Japan have been petroleum products, chemicals, elements, compounds, non-metallic mineral ware, fish & fish preparations, metalliferous ores & scrap, clothing & accessories, iron & steel products, textile yarn, fabrics and machinery etc.
  • Japanese FDI into India grew exponentially from US$ 139 million in 2004 to all time high of US$ 5551 million in 2008. Currently FDI from Japan to India was US$ 1.7 billion during January-December 2014. Japanese FDI has mainly been in automobile, electrical equipment, telecommunications, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.
  • The number of Japanese affiliated companies in India has grown significantly over the years.
  • 13 big infrastructure projects to be financed by ODA loans such as Metro projects both in Chennai and Ahmedabad and road network connectivity in our Northeastern states.

India and Japan signed a Protocol for amending the existing Convention for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income which was signed in 1989. The protocol provides for

  • Internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters including bank
  • information and information without domestic tax interest.
  • The information received from Japan in respect of a resident of India can be shared with other law
  • enforcement agencies with authorisation of the competent authority of Japan and vice versa.
  • Both India and Japan shall provide assistance to each other in the collection of revenue claims.
  • Exemption of interest income from taxation in the source country with respect to debt-claims insured by the Government/Government owned financial institutions.

Multilateral cooperation domain:

Despite being benefited by USA’s uni-polarity, multilateral-ism has emerged as cornerstone of contemporary foreign policy of both the nations.

Joint statement of 2006 incorporated “cooperation in multilateral forums like UN,SAARC, EAS and ARF”. The impulse for multilateralism stems for desire to make 21st century as Asian century through working for peace and stability in the region, providing better connectivity and greater regional integration.

Although undercurrent of fears of China’s hegemony in the Asia and USA’s declining clout in global affairs also boost force of multilateralism supported by India and Japan.

Significant agenda for New Delhi and Tokyo is to reform UNSC. Both demand democratization of UNSC and both claim permanent membership in this regard. Post WWII international security architecture with Beijing as only Asian representative in UNSC with veto power ensures that China will continue to enjoy extraordinary leverage in the region.

So maintaining a status quo is in favor of china as it does not support claim either by India or by Japan. China’s opposition has further cemented the Indo-Japanese relationship wherein countries declared solidarity for each-other’s positions demanding permanent membership and formed G-4 including Germany and Brazil too.

India was included into East Asia summit membership (ASEAN 3+3) on behest of Japan along with Australia and New Zealand despite protest by China.

India shows its appreciation for current Japanese PM’s initiative to help Bangladesh in developing the region around the Bay Of Bengal though ” Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt” or BIG -B initiative.

Japan’s active involvement in this region offsets china’s growing economic and strategic influence in India’s neighborhood. Two course shares similar view of establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan and has invested into Afghanistan’s prosperity and development. India and Japan institutionalize trilateral strategic dialogue partnership with USA in 2011.

These trilateral initiative has serious potential to transform into ‘Quad of Democracies’ (including Australia) in the Indo-Pacific region.

Nuclear Conundrum

Issue of civilian nuclear technology cooperation remains a constraint in realizing true potential of this strategic partnership. Japan’s anti-nuclear stance often conflicts with India’s aspiration of to be a nuclear power.

Tokyo however has relented and supported India-USA Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement at IAEA and  NSG, given the responsible nuclear state history of India.

India and Japan has started discussion on a Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2010. For India, nuclear cooperation with Japan is essential to consummate indo-USA nuclear deal owing to the fact that Westinghouse is Toshiba’s subsidiary and Mitshubishi has a technical cooperation agreement with General Electric.

Even crucial components of nuclear reactors offered by French nuclear consortium -Areva- are manufactured in Japan.India also needs Japan’s support for NSG membership but later has expressed reservations citing New Delhi’s lack of commitment to nuclear disarmament, especially at CTBT and FMCT.

Nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011 had also derailed ongoing consultations. Japan’s preconditions to such an agreement includes stringent inspections of Indian civilian nuclear facilities, termination of agreement in case of India conducts nuclear test and India’s abdication of right to enrich or reprocess fuel of Japanese origin(rule of origin i.e. fagging and benchmarking).

Tokyo has attached significance to ratification to CTBT and a unilateral moratorium on production of fissile material.For India, the benchmark for bilateral civilian cooperation deal has been already fixed by Indo-USA nuclear deal and India will not go more than what it has committed to its civilian nuclear pact with USA.

Notwithstanding, having accepted the IAEA’s ‘Additional Protocols’ which allows IAEA to conduct extensive inspection of India’s civilian nuclear programme, India have affirmatively addressed one of the Japan’s major concerns.

In the backdrop of CTBT being discriminatory and instrument to maintain status- quo in favor of recognized nuclear states, India replies with “Not Now, Not Ever” approach in words of former diplomat Arundhati Ghosh.

With a responsible nuclear doctrine in 1998 itself India had adhered to unilateral moratorium on nuclear test. In addition to this, China and USA has not ratified CTBT yet, so India has no strategic rationale to move forward and ratify it. Same line of argument goes for the FMCT issue too.

Nonetheless Japan in recent times is going ahead with Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement very eagerly owing to economic compulsion resulting from global economic slowdown, which augurs well for India.

What Lies Ahead?

India and Japan are two powerful democratic forces in Asia which are searching for more options to work and prosper jointly.

Economic front needs to be strengthened to reach “Low Hanging Fruit of Asia” wherein demographic dividend of the India and other Asian countries can be deployed to benefit Asia as whole.

Both need to join hand to establish peace and order in not only disturbed region of Asia but of the whole world.

Recent Developments

Japanese PM Visit to India(2015)

  • Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, visited India from 11 to 13 December, 2015.
  • Japan has always been a significant economic partner of India, but not a strategic one. Now, both on the economic and strategic fronts, the India-Japan relationship is being transformed.

Important Outcomes

1. Nuclear agreement signed

  • Reached broad agreement on civil nuclear cooperation after five years of wrangling.
  • This will clear the way for American firms — which source key equipment in Japan – to sell nuclear reactors to India.
  • Commerce aside, this agreement is also symbolically important because Japan was one of India’s most vocal critics after New Delhi’s 1998 nuclear tests.
  • This is part of India’s decade-long process of progressive nuclear rehabilitation.

2. Defense and Security relationship

  • New linkages between the Indian and Japanese air forces and coast guards.
  • Indian training for Japan’s counterterrorism capabilities.
  • Agreements to share classified military information.
  • Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology.
  • India’s decision to invite Japan as a ‘formal partner’ to the US-India Malabar naval exercises.
  • This will passively balance Chinese power. This will complement other initiatives of
  • India like US-India-Japan trilateral at the foreign minister level in October and a US-India-Australia trilateral at a slightly lower level in June.

3. Trade and Investment

  • Japan will create a $12bn-facility to support Japanese companies investing in India to further our Make in India objective
  • As part of the broader Japanese support for Indian infrastructure, memorandum of cooperation on the high speed Shinkansen rail system between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to be financed with a highly concessional yen loan has been signed.

Upgrading civilian infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

India and Japan are in talks to collaborate on upgrading civilian infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

  • The first project being discussed is a modest one — a 15-megawatt diesel power plant on South
  • Andaman Island.
  • To counter china’s growing influence, India is building strategic relations with Japan, Australia and
  • the United States, as well as regional powers like Vietnam.

Way forward

  • India’s Act East policy — of which the India-Japan relationship is a core strand — is important not just
  • For boosting investment but also signaling to China.
  • It is also to strengthen India’s voice in regional debates, whether on economic or security issues,
  • such that India will be in a position to shape emerging economic and security architectures as they form, rather than accommodate to them afterwards.
  • As a recent RAND study noted, ‘Southeast Asia sees India primarily as a security partner, while India primarily sees Southeast Asia as a trade partner’. The more that India accepts the garb of security partner, the more pivotal its role in Asia and its voice in debates.


The foreign ministers of India, Japan and the US met in New York in the first such trilateral engagement between the three countries with an eye on China’s growing influence in the world.

  • The foreign ministers underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes, freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce, including in the South China Sea.
  • The US maintains the South China Sea is international water, and sovereignty in the area should be determined by the UN.
  • With China getting more assertive, the US is looking to marshal allies in the region to take a strategic role.
  • India’s participation in this new trilateral forum along with the US and its most important Asian-Pacific ally marks a new benchmark in India’s integration into the US “Pivot to Asia”—Washington’s drive to militarily-strategically isolate and encircle China.
  • The US has long been pressing India to join US-led trilateral and quadrilateral initiatives with Japan and its other key military partner in the region, Australia.
  • “The U.S. concept of Asia Pivot revolves around isolating China and creating a block of Regional and Extra Regional 2nd tier powers to strategically suffocate China in the 21st century. These 2nd tier powers include India, Australia and Japan.”
  • The three Ministers discussed maintaining maritime security through greater collaboration and appreciated Japan’s participation in the 2015 Malabar naval exercise. Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief also featured in the first trilateral ministerial meet.
  • China had objected to the participation of Japan, Australia and Singapore in Malabar 2007 exercise, which was hosted by India in the Bay of Bengal.
  • To promote regional economic linkages, the three Ministers launched an expert-level group on regional connectivity to identify collaborative efforts, including between south and southeast Asia.

IFS Officer Nayantara D with Honourable Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. She is currently serving as the Third Secreatry, Embassy of Seoul.

(D)PM Modi Visit to Japan(2016)

Prime Minister Modi recently visited Japan at the invitation of Prime Minister of Japan Abe. The two Prime Ministers held wide-ranging consultations.

Outcomes of the visit

Synergising the partnership-∙ Both countries undertook a comprehensive review of the Special Strategic and Global Partnership as outlined in the “India and Japan Vision 2025” and acknowledged the significant progress in bilateral relations over the past two years.

Enhanced space and cooperation on global challenges- such as climate change, countering terrorism and violent extremism, reform of the United Nations (UN) including the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as well as maintaining rules-based international order.

Building stronger partnership for stable and safe world

Emphasis on rising importance of Indo-Pacific region- stressed the core values of democracy, peace, therule of law, tolerance, and respect for the environment in realising pluralistic and inclusive growth of the region.

Consolidation of security and defence cooperation- welcomed two Defence Framework Agreements concerning the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology and concerning Security Measures for the Protection of Classified Military Information.

Deepening bilateral security and defence dialogues, through the “2+2” Dialogue, Defence Policy Dialogue, Military-to-Military Talks and Coast Guard-to-Coast Guard co-operation.

Partnership for prosperity-∙ A dedicated task force to be set up comprising representatives of both countries to develop a concrete roadmap for phased transfer of technology and “Make in India.” Cooperation on the human resource development in the manufacturing sector in India through “Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Programme.”

The two Prime Ministers noted the growing collaboration between India and Japan in the modernisation and expansion of conventional railway system in India.

To build upon cooperation in the field of smart cities to develop smart islands by initiating consultations to identify technologies, infrastructure, development strategies and management processes facilitating development of smart islands in an efficient and effective manner.

Cooperation for a cleaner and greener future

Recognised the importance of access to reliable, clean and affordable energy and welcomed the JapanIndia Energy Partnership Initiative laid by the Japan-India 8th Energy Dialogue held in January 2016.

Commitment to work together in developing the rules for successful implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate change.

Signed the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy which reflects a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership in the cause of clean energy, economic development and a peaceful and secure world.

Foundation of a Future-oriented Partnership– Both the countries signed the following MoUs-

  • MOU between JAXA and ISRO concerning Cooperation in the Field of Outer Space
  • MoU between Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Republic of India and The Japan Agency for MarineEarth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) on Mutual Collaboration in Marine and Earth Science and Technology.
  • Will advance of academic research in the field of Earth Sciences for the benefit of the peace and human welfare.
  • Will enhance capability in the field of atmospheric and climate research, ocean technology observation and hazard mitigation in case of tsunami, earthquakes and other phenomenon.
  • Will boost our “Blue Economy” with better research and exploration of marine resources.



The annual strategic dialogue between India and Japan which began in 2009 has now come to fruition with the signing the nuclear cooperation agreement in Tokyo during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit.

  • Japan has civil nuclear treaties with 13 countries, including the US, France and Russia, but this is the first with a nation that is not part of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).


India and Japan were at loggerheads since 1998 when India conducted its nuclear tests. Japan was the country that took it the hardest. It put all political exchanges with India on hold, froze aid and announced economic sanctions within hours. A thaw in ties didn’t come until 2001, when sanctions were lifted. And then, in 2009, the two countries began an annual strategic dialogue.


Why both countries took so much time to sign this deal?

The deal had been proposed six years ago and till very recently, it seemed that the process would not be concluded.

  • The two prime ministers had signed a memorandum of understanding last December but the thorny issues of Japanese companies’ liability for nuclear accidents, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, and the consequences of any future testing of nuclear weapons by India, remained on the table.
  • The last stage of negotiations on the deal was keenly watched due to a “nullification clause”, which sought automatic cancellation of the agreement if India resorts to nuclear testing in the future.
  • Another sticking point has been India’s refusal to sign the NPT, as it considers the treaty unfair to the developing world.

What’s there in the new deal?

  • Nullification clause issue was resolved by annexing a separate memorandum to the treaty which specifies that Japan can suspend cooperation if India breaches its no-testing pledge to the NSG.
  • India conceded to Japan on another clause which says that Japan can notify India of the termination of the pact with one year’s notice.

Why this deal was important for India?

  • Apart from the Russian reactors, India’s planned nuclear reactors with France and US also depend on Japanese parts. Moreover, GE, Westinghouse, and Areva, the companies planning reactors in India, have important ownership stakes of Japanese companies such as Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi, which were stopped by the Japanese government from doing business with India without a final nuclear deal. This deal will help guarantee Japan’s continued support to India’s civil nuclear programme for generation of clean and cheap power.
  • Reservations in Japan against nuclear energy have hardened after the Fukushima accident. Tokyo’s support to the deal so far is therefore an indication of the importance it accords to relations with India.
  • The agreement is also important for the message of trust it would convey to Nuclear Suppliers Group members in a year the country hopes to have its admission accepted. It gives a much-needed moral boost.
  • The move will also boost the meagre, and dipping, bilateral trade of $15 billion, and lift the strategic military and defence relationship.

What’s in it for Japan?

This deal will mainly help Japan for economical reasons as companies like Mitsubishi and Hitachi are also in the nuclear energy field, and they are running in loss ever since the Fukushima disaster.

These companies are frantically looking for new markets to expand in and there could be no better place than energy starved India. Japan had initially opposed the Indo-US Nuclear deal, as India wasn’t a member of NSG but later changed its position after realizing that its going to be the sole loser in the lucrative Indian market.

Why few countries are opposing this deal?

They say, signing a nuclear trade deal with a country that has shunned the treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons is itself a big mistake. Besides, the agreement contains many questionable and worrisome elements. For instance, the pact doesn’t make it clear whether India has to immediately shut down reactors using Japanese technology when it carries out a nuclear test.

Way ahead:

Now, Japanese Prime Minister must bring the deal to Parliament in early 2017 to ensure that the commercial agreement for Westinghouse’s six reactors in Andhra Pradesh that is due in June 2017 comes through. This will also coincide with the next plenary of the NSG. Both New Delhi and Tokyo must also be wary of the impact on Beijing of this new stage in their ties.

China has been hedging against deeper Japan-India ties in Asia by investing in its relationship with Russia and Pakistan. As the two Asian rivals to China, India and Japan might need the partnership even more in the days to come, as the U.S. President-elect has indicated a lower level of interest in “playing policeman” in the region.


Japan now follows eight other nations, including the US, France and Russia, in entering into a pact with India. It signals a wider acceptance of India’s status as a responsible actor.

Overall, given the economic, nonproliferation, and regional power balance issues examined above, it is clear that full-fledged Japan-India civil nuclear cooperation is fundamentally a development to be welcomed. The question remains regarding whether India is likely to conduct further testing of nuclear weapons and how such tests would impact the bilateral agreement.

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