India and Japan New Dynamism in Relations

Cover Story

In the Tokyo Declaration, both prime ministers decided to invigorate multi-sectoral ministerial dialogues including the next round of foreign ministers strategic dialogue and defence ministers dialogue

The choice of Japan as Modi’s first destination for a bilateral visit outside the Indian neighbourhood signifies Japan’s importance in India’s foreign policy and her central place in India’s Look East Policy.

In the Tokyo Declaration, both prime ministers decided to invigorate multi-sectoral ministerial dialogues including the next round of foreign ministers strategic dialogue and defence ministers dialogue. Considerable importance was attributed to Japan’s participation in the India-US Malabar series of exercises and the regularisation of bilateral maritime exercises. Both the countries are keen to deepen defence relations. The two sides need to accelerate the procurement of the US-2 amphibian aircraft by India and the production of mixed rare earth minerals, key elements in the Japanese industry. There was also confirmation of the commitment to freedom of navigation, maritime security, peaceful settlement of disputes and civil aviation in accordance with international law. Japan decided to remove six of India’s defence and space related entities from Japan’s Foreign End User List. Both the leaders welcomed progress in the negotiations on Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. However, it would be difficult for India to give additional guarantees on any possible future nuclear test.

Japan has agreed to provide technical and financial support to India’s bullet train project. Japan would also endeavour to make an investment of $33 billion in the next five years - a sizeable amount of which would go into projects of cleaning the Ganga River and the development of smart cities. Some other points of cooperation include public-private initiatives to set up Electronics Industrial Parks in India, encourage participation in student exchange programmes and the promotion of Japanese language education in India. India must accelerate implementation of the on-going flagship Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project to maintain its credibility as a reliable partner. The Kyoto-Varanasi agreement initiates cooperation in the field of city modernisation and heritage conservation. Kyoto has effectively balanced heritage with technology and Modi wants to replicate this model in his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi.

Clearly, the elevation of the Strategic and Global Partnership with Japan to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership signifies the increasing warmth in relations between the two Asian giants. Modi has certainly charmed the Japanese, but his challenge would be to overcome the obstacles of the Indian system that is not designed for quick and decisive action. Modi’s election mantras have been ‘Growth and Good Governance’. To meet the assurances given to the Japanese, the Modi government will need to deliver expeditiously on both.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.

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