Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

India-Japan Fund for Climate and Environment Projects


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India-Japan Fund, NIIF

Mains level: Not Much

India-Japan Fund

Central Idea

  • India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) have jointly established a $600 million fund dedicated to climate and environment projects.

India-Japan Fund

  • The Indian government will contribute 49% of the fund’s target corpus, marking NIIF’s inaugural bilateral fund, while JBIC will provide the remaining 51%, according to the finance ministry.
  • The India-Japan Fund’s primary objective is to invest in environmental sustainability and low-carbon emission strategies.
  • It aims to serve as a preferred partner for boosting Japanese investments in India, fostering collaboration and innovation in this critical sector.

Fund Management

  • NIIF’s Role: NIIF Limited will manage the India-Japan fund, overseeing its strategic investments and initiatives.
  • Support from JBIC IG: JBIC IG, a subsidiary of JBIC, will collaborate with NIIFL to promote Japanese investments in India, strengthening the partnership further.

About NIIF

  • NIIF’s Background: Established in 2015, NIIF operates as a sovereign wealth fund, offering a platform for international and Indian investors to participate in India’s growth story.
  • Ownership Structure: The government holds a 49% stake in NIIF, while the remaining 51% is owned by domestic institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, international pension funds, and entities such as the US International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) and multilateral development banks including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and New Development Bank (NDB).

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

G-7 Japan Summit: Consolidating Approaches for Global Challenges in the Indo-Pacific


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: G-7 Hiroshima Summit

Mains level: G-7 Hiroshima Summit, Challenges, approach and way ahead


Central idea

  • The G-7 Hiroshima Summit, hosted by Japan, marks a significant event as Japan takes the lead since the 2008 summit. For Japan, the imperative lay in navigating the complex geopolitical landscape of the Indo-Pacific, reinforcing partnerships, and addressing security risks in a region crucial for global fortunes.

G7 Summit Hiroshima

  • The 49th annual G7 Summit took place in Hiroshima. Japan hosted the summit in its capacity as the President of the G7.
  • Prime Minister Kishida’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was evident through the choice of Hiroshima as the host city.
  • Prime Minister Modi attended the summit at the invitation of the Japanese Prime Minister.
  • The participating leaders issued a leaders’ communiqué on the second day of the summit. The communiqué will be adopted officially at the end of the summit on the 21st.
  • Current Members: US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan

Challenges Facing Japan

  • Russia’s Aggression in Ukraine: Japan is deeply concerned about Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, which poses a threat to regional stability. The conflict, now more than a year old, shows little signs of abating, and Japan is actively monitoring the situation due to its potential impact on its national security strategy.
  • China’s Assertive Behavior: Japan is closely watching China’s increasing assertiveness in the region, both militarily and geopolitically. China’s military modernization plans, territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and growing influence pose significant challenges for Japan’s security and regional stability.
  • Military Pressures on Taiwan: Japan is alarmed by China’s growing military pressures on Taiwan, which has the potential to escalate tensions and trigger a regional conflict. Ensuring the peace and stability of Taiwan is vital for Japan’s national security interests, given its geographical proximity to the region.
  • North Korea’s Nuclear Posturing: The volatile nuclear posturing and nuclear weapons program of North Korea are major concerns for Japan’s security. North Korea’s missile tests and threats of nuclear attacks not only pose a direct threat to Japan but also contribute to regional instability.
  • Economic and Technological Resilience: Japan faces challenges in ensuring economic security, particularly in the face of global supply chain instability and the impact of sensitive technologies. Reviving and strengthening its chip industry and advancing collaborations in science and technology are crucial for Japan’s economic and technological resilience.
  • Climate Change Impacts: As an island nation, it is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, such as coastal erosion, increased flooding, and threats to food security.
  • Regulation of Sensitive Technologies: Japan faces the complex task of regulating sensitive technologies to ensure national security without stifling innovation and economic growth. Striking a balance between fostering technological advancements and safeguarding against potential risks and misuse is a challenge that Japan must navigate.

Significance of the India-Tokyo Partnership

  • Strategic Cooperation: The partnership between New Delhi and Tokyo holds significant strategic importance. As two major democracies in the Indo-Pacific region, their collaboration helps in addressing shared challenges and advancing common interests.
  • Bilateral Defense Ties: The defense cooperation between India and Japan has been growing steadily in recent years. Regular joint military exercises, information sharing, and defense technology collaboration strengthen their respective defense capabilities.
  • Economic Collaboration: India and Japan have been actively engaged in economic cooperation. Their partnership encompasses various sectors such as infrastructure development, technology, trade, and investment. Joint projects in the Indo-Pacific region promote connectivity, economic growth, and sustainable development.
  • Regional Connectivity: The collaboration between India and Japan plays a crucial role in enhancing regional connectivity. Initiatives like the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor (IPEC) aim to create infrastructure linkages and promote trade and investment in the region.
  • Shared Values and Interests: India and Japan share common values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for international norms. Their partnership is built on a foundation of shared interests, including a free and open Indo-Pacific, multilateralism, and a rules-based international order.
  • Counterbalancing China’s Influence: The New Delhi-Tokyo partnership serves as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific. Both countries share concerns about China’s assertiveness and seek to uphold a rules-based order and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • Middle Power Diplomacy: The partnership between India and Japan is an exemplar of middle power diplomacy. By joining forces, they can amplify their respective influence and promote stability and cooperation in the region. Their partnership serves as a model for other middle powers seeking to address global challenges collectively.

Way ahead: Advancing Shinzo Abe’s Legacy

  • Strengthening Alliances and Partnerships: Like Shinzo Abe, current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida can continue to prioritize the strengthening of alliances and partnerships. This includes nurturing relationships with key allies such as the United States, Australia, and India, and expanding cooperation in various areas such as security, trade, and technology.
  • Network Building and Diplomatic Partnerships: Prime Minister Kishida can follow Shinzo Abe’s footsteps by actively engaging in network building and developing diplomatic partnerships across the world. This includes reaching out to countries in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond to foster collaboration, enhance understanding, and create a network of like-minded nations.
  • Regional Leadership in the Indo-Pacific: Japan has a crucial role to play in shaping the strategic contours of the Indo-Pacific region. Prime Minister Kishida can continue Shinzo Abe’s efforts in reinforcing Japan’s leadership position by actively engaging with regional forums and initiatives such as the Quad (Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S.), ASEAN, and the Indo-Pacific initiatives.
  • Economic Engagement and Trade Initiatives: Shinzo Abe was instrumental in advancing Japan’s economic engagement with the world through initiatives like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Prime Minister Kishida can build upon this legacy by further promoting free trade, pursuing economic cooperation agreements, and supporting initiatives that foster economic growth and innovation.
  • Active Engagement in Global Governance: Shinzo Abe played an active role in global governance by advocating for reform in international institutions and promoting Japan’s candidacy for key positions. Prime Minister Kishida can continue this legacy by actively engaging in global forums, working towards international reforms, and contributing to the development of global norms and rules.


  • The G-7 Hiroshima Summit provided a platform for Japan to consolidate approaches in addressing pressing global challenges. Additionally, the deepening partnership between India and Japan contributes to middle-power diplomacy, upholding a rules-based order and countering unilateral attempts to alter regional dynamics. The summit reinforced Japan’s position as a crucial security actor and its willingness to actively engage in shaping the global order.

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Also read:

India-Japan ties under Shinzo Abe


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Northeast India and The Troika of Bangladesh, India and Japan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Updates on India Japan Intellectual dialogues

Mains level: India Japan and Bangladesh ties , opportunities and challenges and the role of North east India


Central Idea

  • The third India-Japan Intellectual Dialogue hosted by the Asian Confluence (ASCON), Tripura, was an ideal opportunity to assess the evolving thinking of experts and policymakers. It showed that the current decade may produce path-breaking changes in the northeast, bringing the troika of Bangladesh, India and Japan closer.

Significant changes in the North East India

  • The region comprising India’s eight northeastern States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim) is undergoing dramatic change.
  • It has overcome several (but not all) security challenges and is now heading toward economic development.
  • Political changes have been helpful. So is the extensive web of linkages with neighbouring Bangladesh. Besides, Japan has emerged as a significant development partner for both India and Bangladesh.

Japan’s historical ties with the North Eastern region of India

  • Cultural ties: There are deep cultural ties between the North Eastern region of India and Japan, with Buddhism being a common thread that binds the two regions.
  • World War II: The North Eastern region of India played a crucial role in World War II, with the Battle of Imphal and Kohima considered to be turning points in the war. The Japanese army had advanced into the region and fought fiercely against the Allied forces.
  • Post-Independence: After India gained independence, the North Eastern region remained largely isolated from the rest of the country. However, in the 1950s, the Indian government started building roads and infrastructure to connect the region with the rest of the country. Japan also played a role in the region’s development, with its assistance in building the Dimapur-Imphal highway.
  • Economic ties: In recent years, there has been a growing focus on economic ties between the North Eastern region of India and Japan. Japan has been investing in infrastructure projects in the region, such as the Guwahati water supply project and the Northeast Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project.
  • Connectivity: Improved connectivity between the North Eastern region of India and Japan is seen as a key factor in strengthening the historical ties between the two regions. There have been talks of establishing a direct flight between Guwahati and Tokyo to enhance connectivity.

What is Asian Confluence?

  • The Asian Confluence is a think tank and cultural centre based in Shillong, Meghalaya, India.
  • It was established in 2012 with the aim of promoting and strengthening cultural and economic ties between the Northeastern region of India and the countries of Southeast Asia.
  • The centre seeks to facilitate dialogue and collaboration between academics, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and civil society groups from across the region, with a particular focus on issues related to connectivity, trade, investment, and tourism.
  • The Asian Confluence hosts a variety of events, including conferences, seminars, workshops, and cultural programs, that bring together experts and stakeholders from different fields to discuss and explore opportunities for collaboration and cooperation.
  • In addition to promoting economic and cultural ties, the centre also seeks to foster a sense of community and shared identity among the diverse peoples of the region.

Opportunities for Northeast India

  • Matarbari Deep Sea Port: The development of the Matarbari Deep Sea Port in Bangladesh, with Japanese assistance, is expected to be a game changer for the region. To be optimally viable, the port will have to cater to the needs of Bangladesh and India’s northeast, serving a population of 220 million.
  • Competitive advantage: The creation of regional industrial value chains and rapid industrialization in sectors where the northeast has a competitive advantage will be crucial to ensure that the new connectivity links are fully utilized and productive.
  • Natural resources and strategic location: The region’s natural resources and strategic location make it an attractive destination for investors in diverse sectors such as agro-processing, man-made fibers, handicrafts, assembly of two-wheelers, mobile phones, and pharmaceuticals.

What are the Challenges?

  • Insufficient investment: Japan as a single investor in the northeast is unworkable. Indian companies must also invest, and India needs to ease restrictions on the flow of investments from Bangladesh.
  • Security challenges: While the northeastern region has overcome several security challenges, not all of them have been addressed.
  • Infrastructure connectivity: While Bangladesh and India have made progress in restoring pre-1965 infrastructure connectivity, other countries in the region need to reciprocate with similar connectivity initiatives.
  • Environmental concerns: As industrialization and development take place, there is a need to ensure that environmental concerns are addressed and sustainability is prioritized.
  • Lack of attention to BIMSTEC: When issues of regional cooperation and integration are discussed, scant attention seems to be paid to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which is self-defeating.

What measures should be taken?

  • Limited policy convergence: Policy convergence must be expanded to address challenges in the region.
  • Need for closer linkages: The three governments of Bangladesh, India, and Japan should forge closer linkages of economic cooperation.
  • Investment: Indian companies need to invest in the northeast along with Japanese companies. India should also ease restrictions on the flow of investments from Bangladesh.
  • Infrastructure connectivity: Bangladesh facilitated much connectivity with India and now needs reciprocity from other countries, particularly India, so that it is better connected with other neighbors, including Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
  • Need for leadership: The goal of connecting a large part of South Asia with Southeast Asia requires an astute pilot. This leadership can come from the triad of Bangladesh, India, and Japan.


  • The triad of Bangladesh, India, and Japan (BIJ) can provide astute leadership in connecting a large part of South Asia with Southeast Asia. A BIJ Forum should be launched at the level of Foreign Ministers, a move that will be welcomed in the northeast. The three governments should forge closer linkages of economic cooperation.

Mains Question

Q. Highlight the role and the potential of North east India for bringing in the troika of Bangladesh, India and Japan closer?

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Changing Geopolitical Landscape and India’s Diplomacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Changing Geopolitical world order and India's diplomacy


Central Idea

  • The changing geopolitical landscape, characterized by realignments and recalibrations among major powers, demands nimble, flexible, and open-ended diplomacy from India, as it faces the challenges posed by the deepening partnership between Russia and China.


Changing geopolitical landscape

  1. Geopolitical Churn overview:
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aims to elevate Indo-Pacific partnership with India.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Moscow to consolidate the Eurasian alliance with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
  • Recalibration of relations among major middle powers, such as the thaw between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
  • Such events signify the ongoing realignment of major powers in the world.\
  1. Realignment and Dealignment:
  • The breakdown of the post-Cold War world order has accelerated due to Russian aggression against Ukraine and the conflict over Taiwan.
  • Countries are adapting to the breakdown of the old order at different speeds and with varying senses of urgency.
  • Some trends in the geopolitical landscape are enduring, while others represent short-term adjustments.
  1. Middle East Dynamics:
  • Saudi-Iran rapprochement could be tactical or strategic, but the regional powers have some room for bargaining with both Russia-China and the West.
  • Domestic crises in Turkey and Iran might encourage them to scale down their foreign policy adventurism.
  1. East Asia Developments:
  • The recent summit between South Korea and Japan marked the first meeting between the two leaders in nearly twelve years.
  • The volatile domestic politics of South Korea and its deep economic relationship with China make the regional dynamic uncertain.
  • India needs to navigate this shifting regional landscape with agile diplomacy.
  1. Russia-China Partnership:
  • The deepening partnership between Russia and China poses challenges for India.
  • Different perspectives on how this partnership might affect India-Russia relations.


Significance of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to India

  • Strengthening the Strategic Partnership: The visit helps to reaffirm and expand the strategic partnership between India and Japan, which is crucial for maintaining peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. Both countries share common concerns about China’s growing influence and assertiveness, and the visit highlights their commitment to working together to address these challenges.
  • Enhancing Defense Cooperation: Kishida’s visit to India provides an opportunity for both countries to discuss ways to enhance defense cooperation, including joint military exercises, defense technology transfers, and collaboration on defense research and development. This collaboration could help both countries build their capabilities to address regional security challenges.
  • Expanding Economic Ties: The visit offers an opportunity to further expand trade and investment relations between India and Japan, which are already robust. Both countries can explore new areas of economic cooperation, such as infrastructure development, technology collaboration, and supply chain diversification, thereby reducing their dependence on China.
  • Focus on Connectivity and Infrastructure: Japan has been actively involved in major infrastructure projects in India, such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and high-speed rail projects. Kishida’s visit could lead to further collaboration in connectivity initiatives, both within India and across the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Collaboration on Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Both India and Japan are committed to addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development. Kishida’s visit can help strengthen cooperation in areas such as clean energy, low-carbon technologies, and climate-resilient infrastructure.
  • People-to-People Exchanges: The visit can also contribute to enhancing people-to-people exchanges between India and Japan, such as academic exchanges, cultural programs, and tourism promotion, which can foster greater understanding and goodwill between the two nations.

Value addition

The deepening partnership between Russia and China in recent years

  • Shared Interests: Both Russia and China have an interest in creating a multipolar world and countering Western dominance. They often share similar perspectives on international issues and work together in organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS.
  • Economic Ties: China has become Russia’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching over $110 billion in 2020. Both countries have been working to strengthen their economic cooperation in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, and technology.
  • Energy Cooperation: Russia is a major exporter of natural resources like oil and gas, and China is the world’s largest energy consumer. The two countries have signed numerous agreements on energy cooperation, including the construction of pipelines and joint development of natural gas projects.
  • Military Collaboration: Russia and China have increased their military cooperation in recent years, conducting joint military exercises and sharing defense technologies. Russia has been a significant arms supplier to China, helping to modernize the Chinese military.
  • Political Support: Both countries have supported each other on the international stage, often backing each other’s positions in the United Nations and other international forums. For instance, China has supported Russia’s stance on issues like Crimea and Syria, while Russia has backed China on issues related to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
  • Response to Western Sanctions: In the face of Western sanctions imposed on Russia due to its actions in Ukraine, the partnership with China has become increasingly important for Moscow. China has provided economic support to Russia, helping to mitigate the impact of these sanctions.
  • The US Factor: The United States’ strategic pivot to the Indo-Pacific and its efforts to counter China’s rise have pushed Beijing closer to Moscow. Likewise, strained US-Russia relations have led Moscow to seek stronger ties with Beijing.

Russia and China axis: Implications for India

  • Strategic Concerns: A closer Russia-China alliance could potentially undermine India’s strategic interests, as both countries are India’s neighbors and have had historical disputes with it. A stronger partnership between Russia and China could complicate India’s efforts to maintain a balance of power in the region.
  • Impact on India-Russia Relations: India has traditionally enjoyed a strong relationship with Russia, especially in defense cooperation. However, Russia’s growing ties with China could potentially affect this relationship, as Moscow may prioritize its partnership with Beijing over New Delhi.
  • Influence in the Indo-Pacific: A stronger Russia-China partnership could challenge India’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region, where both countries are trying to expand their presence. This might lead to increased competition and tensions between India and the Russia-China alliance.
  • Security Challenges: Increased military cooperation between Russia and China might pose security challenges for India, as it could result in a more assertive and capable China in the region. This could also affect India’s efforts to maintain a stable security environment along its borders.
  • Multilateral Forums: India’s role in multilateral forums such as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) might be impacted by the Russia-China partnership. India may find it challenging to pursue its interests in these forums if both countries work together to promote their shared goals.
  • Diplomatic Balancing Act: India will need to navigate a delicate diplomatic balancing act as it seeks to maintain strong ties with both Russia and the US, while also pursuing closer relations with countries in the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s rise.
  • Economic Implications: India’s trade and investment relations with Russia and China could be affected by the evolving geopolitical situation. India might need to diversify its economic partnerships to minimize the risks associated with the Russia-China alliance.

India’s diplomacy in response to the changing geopolitical landscape

  • Act East Policy: India has strengthened its focus on East and Southeast Asia, both economically and strategically, through the Act East Policy. This approach aims to deepen India’s engagement with the ASEAN countries, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, promoting regional connectivity, trade, and investment while also addressing shared security concerns.
  • Indo-Pacific Strategy: Recognizing the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific region, India has been actively participating in regional forums and partnerships, such as the Quad (comprising India, Japan, Australia, and the United States). This strategy aims to maintain a rules-based order, ensure freedom of navigation, and promote regional stability in the face of China’s growing influence.
  • Balancing Relations with Major Powers: India has been navigating its relationships with major powers, such as the United States, Russia, and China. While India has strengthened its strategic partnership with the US, it also maintains its long-standing ties with Russia, despite Moscow’s growing closeness to Beijing. At the same time, India seeks to manage its complex relationship with China, balancing cooperation on regional and global issues with competition and strategic rivalry.
  • Neighbourhood First Policy: India has been prioritizing its relationships with its immediate neighbors in South Asia, focusing on enhancing connectivity, economic integration, and people-to-people exchanges. This policy aims to foster regional stability, counterbalance China’s growing influence, and promote India’s leadership role in the region.
  • Multilateralism and Global Governance: India has been actively participating in and seeking reforms in global governance institutions, such as the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council reflects its ambition to play a more significant role in shaping global norms and addressing shared challenges, such as climate change, sustainable development, and international terrorism.
  • Economic Diplomacy: India has been leveraging its economic diplomacy to attract foreign investment, promote its exports, and diversify its supply chains. By engaging with various regional trade blocs and negotiating bilateral trade agreements, India aims to integrate itself more closely with the global economy and enhance its economic competitiveness.


  • As the geopolitical landscape continues to shift and evolve, India needs to adapt its diplomacy to navigate the changing dynamics effectively. The deepening partnership between Russia and China requires India to reassess its strategic relationships and adopt a flexible approach in dealing with both traditional and emerging partners.

Mains Question

Q. India-Japan relations have witnessed a significant transformation in recent years. Discuss the strategic significance of the bilateral partnership and also evaluate the challenges in further strengthening the relationship.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Japan-India Combat Exercise and the Chinese Concerns


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Veer Guardian 2023

Mains level: India-Japan relations


Central Idea

  • Japan and India have launched their second Joint Air Defense Exercise called “Veer Guardian 2023” to conduct multi-domain air combat operations in a complex environment and deepen their mutual operational understanding while fostering closer defence cooperation. This increased military collaboration between Japan and India under US guidance in the Indo-Pacific is causing subdued panic among Chinese commentators.

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All you need to know about Veer Guardian 2023

  • Bilateral exercise: Veer Guardian is a bilateral air exercise between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).
  • Fourth edition: The exercise took place at Hyakuri Air Base, near Tokyo in Japan in January 2023 and was the fourth edition of the Veer Guardian series.
  • Participation: The IAF participated with six Sukhoi Su-30MKI multirole fighters and two C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, while the JASDF deployed six Mitsubishi F-2 fighters.
  • The primary objectives of the exercise: To enhance interoperability between the two air forces, exchange best practices and operational experiences, and improve understanding of each other’s tactics and procedures.
  • Drills: The exercise included various aerial manoeuvres, air combat scenarios, air-to-ground strikes, and close air support operations. The Indian side also participated in a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) drill, which involved the C-17 aircraft dropping relief supplies to a simulated disaster-hit area.

Japan-India collusion against China

  • Japan’s Pursuit of Allies: Japan has been actively seeking allies to counterbalance China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region. It has formed alliances with several countries, including the US, Germany, the UK, Australia, and India.
  • Japan-India Security Cooperation: Japan and India have a reciprocal access agreement in place since 2020. They have regularly been conducting joint military exercises in naval, ground and air domains.
  • Opportunities for India to gain experience: India, having faced a three-year-long border standoff with China, sees the joint air exercises with Japan as a rare opportunity to gain experience over the East China Sea. Therefore, the joint drill with Japan can become a stepping stone to future quadrilateral air exercises.


Why China is concerned about the increasing collaboration between Japan and India?

  • Japan’s National Security Strategy: The NSS sees China as Japan’s biggest challenge ever seen and recommends a counter-strike capability by 2027.
  • Japan’s strategy to counter China’s increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific region: The Chinese government believes that Japan is exaggerating the China Threat Theory as evidenced by Japan’s recently published National Security Strategy (NSS).
  • Limiting Strategic manoeuvrability: A stronger India poses a major threat to China’s west while Japan in the east remains a major threat. As both India and Japan are significant players in the Asia-Pacific region, their collaboration could potentially limit China’s strategic maneuverability.
  • Balance of power: Together, India and Japan can bring a paradigmatic shift in the region’s security. The increasing collaboration with India is one of the ways in which Japan is seeking to balance its power with China.
  • Concern for national security: Moreover, China sees Japan’s recent efforts to court allies and introduce NATO forces in the Asia-Pacific region as potentially leading to a resurgence of Japan’s militarist past, which is a concern for China’s national security.


  • In sum, the Japan-India joint air drill will impart crucial combat experience to both air forces. It will also further Japan’s approach to involve India deeper in the East Asian security architecture. However, for China, the air drill comes as an ominous portent for the future.

Mains question

Q. What is the significance of the Veer Guardian 2023 joint air exercise between India and Japan, and why is China concerned about the increasing collaboration between these two countries? Discuss

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Private: The strategic partnership between India and Japan in solving their common security challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: QUAD

Mains level: Bilateral relations


  • There is much that India and Japan could do together in meeting their common security challenges.

Why in news?

  • China’s growing military capabilities and assertiveness on territorial disputes are at the heart of the deteriorating environment of India and Japan.

What is 2+2 talks between India and allies?

  • The 2+2 dialogue is a format of meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of India and its allies on strategic and security issues.
  • A 2+2 ministerial dialogue enables the partners to better understand and appreciate each other’s strategic concerns and sensitivities taking into account political factors on both sides.
  • This helps to build a stronger, more integrated strategic relationship in a rapidly changing global environment.
  • India has 2+2 dialogues with four key strategic partners: US, Australia, Japan, and RUSSIA.

JapanRecent developments in India-Japan Relationship

(1) Supply Chain Resilience Initiative

  • Recently India, Australia and Japan formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative. The initiative was launched to counter the dominance of China in the Global Supply Chain.
  • It aims to prevent disruptions in the supply chain as seen during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The initiative will mainly focus on diversification of investment and digital technology adoption.

(2) Other MEA led-bilateral dialogues

  • The Act East Forum, established in 2017, aims to provide a platform for India-Japan collaboration under the rubric of India’s “Act East Policy” and Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision”.
  • At the Second meeting of the Act East forum, both sides agreed to focus on expanding of Japanese language in North East, training of caregivers under Technical Intern Training Program (TITP), capacity building in area of bamboo value chain development and Disaster Management.
  • The inaugural India-Japan Space Dialogue was held in Delhi for enhancing bilateral cooperation in outer space and information exchange on the respective space policies.

(3) Currency Swap Agreement

  • Japan and India have entered into a $75-billion currency swap arrangement that will bolster the country’s firepower as it battles a steep drop in the rupee’s value.
  • A currency swap is an agreement between two parties to exchange a series of cash flows denominated in one currency for those denominated in another for a predetermined period of time.
  • The deal will help the two countries to swap their currencies for U.S. dollars to stabilise the rupee which has witnessed the steepest fall in recent years.

JapanJapan’s new strategy:

  • Capacity building: To cope with Chinese power involves three broad elements reorienting Japan’s diplomacy, boosting national capabilities to deter aggression and deepening defence partnerships.
  • Realism diplomacy: In his address to the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore this June, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida talked of a new “realism diplomacy” that will allow Japan to meet the new security challenges through pragmatism and firmness.
  • Increase in budget: On the question of deterrence, Kishida declared his commitment to “fundamentally reinforce Japan’s defence capabilities within the next five years and secure substantial increase of Japan’s defence budget needed to effect it”.
  • No apology: Japan is no longer apologetic about its new determination to protect itself. For different reasons, both Tokyo and Delhi had tended to be far too deferential to China and hesitant to call out Beijing’s unacceptable actions.

Security and defence cooperation

  • QUAD:Formed in 2007 and revived in 2017 The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad) is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
  • Exercise Malabar:The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar.
  • JIMEX: In spite of the pandemic, complex exercises in all domains were conducted including Japan India maritime exercise (JIMEX 2020)and PASSEX, showcasing the trust and interoperability between the navies.

Challenges in ties

  • Geographical limitations:The two countries are too far apart to be meaningful partners in any confrontation between one of them and China.
  • China is too big to defeat:No partnership have the military muscle or diplomatic heft to achieve its objectives in countering China.
  • Lesser say at UNSC:At the diplomatic level, neither pulls the kind of power that can counter Beijing and this is not just because they are not UNSC members, unlike China.
  • Japan lacks military technology:Japan obviously has a very advanced high-technology industrial sector, its military industry is insignificant. It’s better not to invoke the DRDO.

Key fact to remember

Japanese economy is the third-largest in the world

Way forward

  • People to people contact: Although the Covid-19 situation remains challenging, people-to-people exchanges between two countries are also being advanced.
  • Cooperation in security: Cooperation has also taken great strides in the area of security, including joint exercises between the Japan Self-Defence Forces and the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Reaping the benefits of natural alliance: Taking advantage of its considerable assets — the world’s third-largest economy, substantial high-tech skills, Japan is largely perceived as a natural ally to India.
  • Looking East: If Japan and India continue to add concrete security content to their relationship, their strategic partnership could potentially be a game-changer in Asia.


  • Both should inject substantive military content into the strategic partnership between India and Japan. For there is much that Delhi and Tokyo could do together in meeting their common security challenges.

Mains question

Q. China’s growing military capabilities and assertiveness on territorial disputes are at the heart of the deteriorating environment of India and Japan. Critically examine bilateral ties between both.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Japan with India, for Indo-Pacific


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India- Japan ties


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

Indo-Japan ties: Background

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

India-Japan ties during Shinzo Abe’s premiership

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


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

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

India-Japan ties under Shinzo Abe


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-Japan ties flourished under Mr. Abe

Shinzo Abe, the former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot dead.

Japan under Abe

  • Abe, one of the most consequential leaders of Japan in its post-war history — was the country’s longest serving PM.
  • During his time in office, Abe was a great friend of India, and a relationship that he invested personally in.
  • He also had a special rapport with PM Modi, which came out on multiple occasions.

Transformation in India-Japan ties

(1) Personal visits

  • During his first stint in 2006-07, Abe visited India and addressed Parliament.
  • He visited India thrice: in January 2014, December 2015, and September 2017.
  • No other Prime Minister of Japan has made so many visits to India.
  • He was the first Japanese PM to be Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade in 2014.

(2) Bilateral talks

  • The foundation for “Global Partnership between Japan and India” was laid in 2001, and annual bilateral summits were agreed in 2005, Abe accelerated the pace of ties since 2012.
  • In August 2007, when Abe visited India for the first time as PM, he delivered the now-famous “Confluence of the Two Seas” speech — laying the foundation for his concept of Indo-Pacific.
  • This concept has now become mainstream and one of the main pillars of India-Japan ties.

(3) Nuclear deal

  • In September 2014, Modi and Abe agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to “Special Strategic and Global Partnership”.
  • The relationship grew and encompassed issues from civilian nuclear energy to maritime security, bullet trains to quality infrastructure, Act East policy to Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • When Modi went to Japan in 2014, the Indo-Japan nuclear deal was still uncertain, with Tokyo sensitive about a pact with a non-Nuclear-Proliferation-Treaty member country.
  • Abe convinced the anti-nuclear hawks in Japan to sign the agreement in 2016.

(4) Defence cooperation

  • While the security agreement was in place since 2008, under Abe the two sides decided to have Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting (2+2).
  • They started negotiations on the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement — a kind of military logistics support pact.
  • In November 2019, the first 2+2 was held in New Delhi.
  • A pact for transfer of defence equipment and technology was also signed in 2015, an uncommon agreement for post-War Japan.

(5) Indo-Pacific narrative

  • During Abe’s tenure, India and Japan came closer in the Indo-Pacific architecture.
  • Abe had spelt out his vision of the Confluence of the Two Seas in his 2007 speech when the Quad was formed.
  • It collapsed soon, but in October 2017, as Chinese aggression grew in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and India’s borders in Doklam, it was Abe’s Japan that really mooted the idea of reviving the Quad.

(6) Development cooperation

  • During Abe’s visit in 2015, India decided to introduce the Shinkansen System (bullet train).
  • Under Abe’s leadership, India and Japan also formed the Act East Forum and are engaged in projects in the Northeast, closely watched by China.
  • The two countries also planned joint projects in Maldives and Sri Lanka among others to counter Beijing’s influence.

(7) Stand against China

  • Since 2013, Indian and Chinese soldiers have had four publicly known border-stand-offs — April 2013, September 2014, June-August 2017, and the ongoing one since May 2020.
  • Abe’s Japan has stood with India through each of them.
  • During the Doklam crisis and the current stand-off, Japan has made statements against China for changing the status quo.

Conclusion: A leader India always missed

  • Abe was a valuable G-7 leader for India, focused on strategic, economic and political deliverables, and not getting distracted by India’s domestic developments — much to New Delhi’s comfort.
  • Having hosted Modi at his ancestral home in Yamanashi, the first such reception extended to a foreign leader, Abe was feted at a roadshow in Ahmedabad.
  • Quite befittingly, the Indian government in January 2021 announced the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honour, for Abe.



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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

India and Japan: A special partnership


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quad

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Japan relations


Seventy years after diplomatic relations were established, here in India today, a metro system built with the support of Japanese official development assistance (ODA) is in operation, cars built by Japanese companies run on the streets, and a high-speed rail will make its debut in the future.

The realisation of new form of capitalism

  • Japan has been concentrating on measures to overcome Covid-19, and working towards the realisation of a “new form of capitalism” that will revive the economy through a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution.
  • As part of such measures, it is focusing on finding solutions to various social challenges, including digital, climate change and economic security in the growth strategy. 
  • For Japan, India is certainly the best partner to have when seeking to realise a “new form of capitalism,” as showcased in India’s contribution in response to the global health crisis as a major manufacturing base, leadership in decarbonisation efforts, including through the International Solar Alliance, engagement in advanced digital society initiatives such as Aadhaar, and the promotion of economic security initiatives, including measures for supply chain resilience.

Challenges to the global order

  •  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of international law as well as an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force.
  •  Upholding the core principles of the international order is indispensable from the perspective of diplomacy and security in the Indo-Pacific, where the situation has been rapidly worsening.
  •  In the recent Japan-Australia-India-US (Quad) Leaders’ Video Conference, leaders concurred that any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force, such as this time, must not be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • There is a challenge of protecting the rules-based international order, building resilient supply chains and reinvigorating the economy.
  • We need strategies to respond to new international challenges like cybersecurity and climate change.
  • Both Japan and India are committed to taking bold measures to tackle such challenges.

Way forward for India-Japan relations

  • People to people contact: Although the Covid-19 situation remains challenging, people-to-people exchanges between two countries are also being advanced.
  • Cooperation in security: Cooperation has also taken great strides in the area of security, including joint exercises between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Quad: Cooperation is also rapidly developing between Japan, Australia, India and the United States, four countries that share fundamental values, and the next leaders’ summit is under coordination.
  • Cultural bond: As the name “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” suggests, Japan-India relations have evolved into an inclusive and multi-layered relationship based on cultural bonds, firm friendship, and common universal values.


As Japan’s prime minister comes on visit to India, his visit to India will open a new chapter in bilateral relations that will deepen the “Japan-India Special Strategic, and Global Partnership” even further.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

India-Japan friendship can help global peace, prosperity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Japan relations


The year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India.

Historical background of India-Japan relationship

  • We have a long history of people-to-people exchanges that can be traced back to the sixth century.
  • Buddhism was brought to Japan and, in 752.
  • During Meiji Restoration in the late 19th Century — Japan needed natural resources to modernise its industry.
  • Many Japanese travelled to India to purchase cotton, iron ore, etc.
  • Formal relations between Japan and India began in 1952.
  • After the Second World War, instead of signing the multilateral San Francisco Peace Treaty, India opted for concluding a bilateral peace treaty with Japan, considering that honour and equality should be ensured for Japan to rejoin the international community.
  • But even before the establishment of diplomatic relations, the goodwill between the people of the two countries was deeply rooted through business, academic and cultural exchanges.
  • After 70 years of multi-layered exchanges, the relationship between our two countries grew into a “Special Strategic and Global Partnership”. 

Future possibilities

[1] As democratic countries, contribute to global peace and prosperity

  • As democratic countries in Asia, India and Japan can cooperate to contribute to global peace and prosperity.
  • We share political, economic and strategic interests based on the firm foundations of common values and traditions.
  • We are continuing our efforts to build a rules-based free and open international order.

[2] Cooperation in security

  • There are a plethora of fields that we can cooperate in security issues including cyber security, outer space and economic security.

[3] Augmenting economic relations

  •  For long, Japan has been the largest ODA (Official Development Assistance) donor to India.
  • One of the most recent and ongoing examples of our collaboration is the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project.
  • Japan is also one of the largest investors in India.
  • Both countries have also promoted economic cooperation in other countries to enhance social infrastructure and connectivity.
  • Our economic partnership can further strengthen the economy of the Indo-Pacific, as well as the world economy.

[4] Cultural exchange

  • Cultural exchanges including literature, movies, music, sports and academics are essential for our relations, enabling a better understanding.

Consider the question “The year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India. The future offers enormous possibilities for the partnership. In context of this, examine the future possibilities the two countries can explore.” 


India-Japan ties will continue to flourish. Our long history substantiates that.

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Meiji Restoration in Japan

  • In Japanese history, the political revolution in 1868 that brought about the final demise of the Tokugawa shogunate (military government)—thus ending the Edo (Tokugawa) period (1603–1867)—and, at least nominally, returned control of the country to direct imperial rule under Mutsuhito (the emperor Meiji).
  • In a wider context, however, the Meiji Restoration of 1868 came to be identified with the subsequent era of major political, economic, and social change—the Meiji period (1868–1912)—that brought about the modernization and Westernization of the country.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

Strategic cooperation between India, Italy and Japan can ensure a free Indo-Pacific


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Japan-Italy partnership


Recently, Mr. Draghi, Italy’s Prime Minister described Chinese competitive practices as “unfair” and invited the EU to be franker and more courageous in confronting Beijing on various issues. Against this backdrop, a trilateral partnership between India-Japan-Italy could play important role in the Indo-Pacific region.

India’s growing centrality in Indo-Pacific strategic architecture

  • Countries that share similar values and face similar challenges are coming together to create purpose-oriented partnerships.
  • In the context of the Indo-Pacific, the challenges posed by China’s assertive initiatives clash with a region lacking multilateral organisations capable of solving problems effectively.
  • But as a new pushback against China takes shape and as Indian foreign policy becomes strategically clearer, there is new momentum to initiatives such as the Quad.

India-Italy-Japan trilateral partnership

  • Recently, Italy has also begun to signal its intention to enter the Indo-Pacific geography.
  • It has done so by seeking to join India and Japan in a trilateral partnership.
  • Italy has become more vocal on the risks emanating from China’s strategic competitive initiatives.
  • On the Indian side, there is great interest in forging new partnerships with like-minded countries interested in preserving peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The responsibility of keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open, and working for the welfare of its inhabitants falls on like-minded countries within and beyond the region.

Potential of trilateral partnership

  • Their compatible economic systems can contribute to the reorganisation of the global supply chains that is now being reviewed by many players as a natural result of the Chinese mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  •  At the security level, the well-defined India-Japan Indo-Pacific partnership can easily be complemented by Italy.
  • At the multilateral level, the three countries share the same values and the same rules-based world view.

The way forward for trilateral cooperation

  • The Italian government must formulate a clear Indo-Pacific strategy that must indicate its objectives.
  • But Rome must go beyond that in defining and implementing, at the margins of the EU’s common initiatives, its own policy with respect to the Indo-Pacific.
  • The India, Italy and Japan trilateral initiative can be a forum to foster and consolidate a strategic relationship between these three countries, and specifically expand India-Italy bilateral relations.
  • A trilateral cooperation can be the right forum for India and Italy to learn more from each other’s practices and interests and consolidate a strategic dialogue that should include the economic, the security and the political dimensions.
  •  To consolidate the trilateral cooperation in this field, the three countries need to define a common economic and strategic agenda.


A clear political will is needed from all sides, and Italy, in particular, should recognise its interests in playing a larger role towards the maintenance of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Robust India-Italy strategic ties can be the first step towards the realisation of this goal.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Japan

India-Japan relations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CoRe-Competitive and Resilient Partnership

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Japan relations

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

Issues discussed in US-Japan summit

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

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

1) Continuation of balancing security policy

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

2) Expanding cooperation in various sectors

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

3) Economic ties

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

4) Joint strategy toward key third countries

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

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


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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