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India- Japan: Consolidating ties
India Japan Relations since the signing of the Peace treaty in 1952 has been termed as a relationship with great potential as the countries have no historical baggage, share economic complementariness’ trust in democracy and rule of law. This ‘potential’ was much discussed in various forums but was restricted by the then world order, which saw both the countries positioned differently due to Japan’s alignment with USA and India’s stand on non alignment.

The change in world order, followed by opening of India’s economy resulted in reviewing the ‘potential’ by both countries and the relationship took a new trajectory in the 2000’s. Starting with “global partnership”, the term “strategic” was first stated by Koizumi during his visit in 2005. The statement “Towards India- Japan Partnership in a New Asian Era: Strategic Orientation of India –Japan Global Partnership” and the 8-point initiative agreed upon then, laid a solid foundation to realise the strategic partnership.

Abe’s address to Indian parliament in 2007, termed “Confluence of the Two Seas”, indicated Japan’s interest in giving a new dimension to the relationship. Since then, the term “strategic” has gained more attention and today it includes not only economic relations but also security relations between these two nations. Further, it also implies that the “strategic partnership” would also include the response of the two nations to the larger Asian community.

Developments in 2013, in the form of not just a Prime-Ministerial in meeting in May, but also establishment of dialogues (two plus two) between ministries of external affairs, industry and defence of both the countries has only underscored the commitment of both the nations in drawing closer to cooperate and collaborate.

The visit of the Emperor in late November 2013, though symbolic, had a strong impact on the Japanese as they still look at their emperor in reverence and it sent a message that India is significant. The visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the guest of hounour for the republic day celebrations, in spite of a busy schedule especially since the Diet is in progress, only confirms the importance that Japan gives to India.

With China growing powerful economically and flexing its political muscle in the East Asia region, Japan needs a partner who can help support and sustain peace in the Asian community. Japan interest in this direction is furthered by its concern over obstacle free energy transportation through the Indian Ocean.

Further, for Japan India is a market for both consumer goods and technology which can help it come out of its economic slump; a market in which it can park its long term capital and also a country in need of Japan’s proven expertise in infrastructure development technology and world class corporate. On the other hand Japan fulfils India’s hunger for capital and technology with a strong and non controversial image that Japan promotes among Indian political and business community.

The forthcoming visit of Japanese Prime Minster Abe would not see significant development in terms of agreements as India is heading for elections and a probable change of leadership. Further, this visit is not the yearly meeting of the premiers which is scheduled for later part of the year- a platform which Japan uses to give capital, technology and business directions.

Though closure on nuclear agreement is much desired, but a likely hood of it featuring in the discussion is remote due to uncertainties in Indian leadership. Likely developments are, firm financial commitments and a roadmap for a Chennai- Bengaluru superfast train and commitment for similar infrastructure for the Mumbai- Ahmadabad corridor.

What this visit emphasizes, especially since it comes almost on the heels of Emperor’s visit, is to send a message across to the international community that there can be no speculation that India Japan relations is moving beyond just looking at it through the prism of ‘economic gain’ but rather that of strong mutual cooperation and enduring solidarity.

(About the Author: Dr. Srabani Roy Choudhury is Associate Professor at School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi)

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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