INDIA AND JAPAN: DIFFERENCES IN THE RELATIONSHIP
Japan cannot understand why India tested its nuclear weapon. India’s response has always been that if a country is under the nuclear umbrella of the US, it doesn’t need its own nuclear weapon. But India is under no nuclear umbrella and is surrounded by hostile nuclear powers. If India tests again, will Japan react in the same way ? Hard to say.
India’s bureaucracy really annoys Japan. And the selective use of the bureaucracy, dating back to Japan’s memories of the way its Suzuki Motors was treated by India when it was trying to establish Maruti Suzuki, especially so.
For India, Japan is not concerned enough about Pakistan; for Japan the reverse is true about North Korea. Remember, when North Korea fired a missile recently, it fell in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, the UN Law of the Seas-mandated territory).
There are also differences over freedom of navigation in India’s exclusive economic zone.
RCEP represents a major problem. The most significant is the difference between India and Japan in the pharma sector. As is well known, India does not grant patents for new forms or new uses of a known substance (generics). This has prevented unnecessary extensions of patent monopolies on some cancer drugs — a move praised by health advocacy groups such as Médecins Sans Frontières as a major victory for access to affordable medicines. These safeguards would be lost if India and RCEP countries agree to Japan’s proposal.
One school of thought argues that an embrace with Japan will drive the wedge between India and China even deeper; New Delhi doesn’t need that at this point. However, those who subscribe to this are small in number.