STRENGTHEN INDO-JA­PANESE BOND : A VIEW­POINT

Pre­sent In­dia-Ja­pan bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship needs to be car­ried much be­yond as the two coun­tries work for global part­ner­ship with con­verg­ing strate­gic in­ter­ests

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) P.C. KA­TOCH The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

Amidst all the mus­cle flex­ing by China against both In­dia and Ja­pan, the re­cent visit to In­dia by Ja­pan’s first ever reign­ing Em­peror Ak­i­hito and Em­press Michiko had spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance, given the his­tory of Indo-Ja­panese friend­ship, the 2,600 years old Ja­panese monar­chy and the fact that their de­ci­sion to visit In­dia was due to press­ing re­quest from Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe with over 50 other coun­tries await­ing visit of the royal cou­ple.

Their last visit to In­dia was in 1960 as the young crown prince and princess. The re­cent visit sent a clear mes­sage about the strate­gic part­ner­ship that Ja­pan has with In­dia. How­ever, cov­er­age for the royal cou­ple iron­i­cally in our me­dia was some­what sub­dued de­spite Ja­panese me­dia de­scrib­ing the visit as ‘non-po­lit­i­cal’ and not aimed at coun­ter­ing China. This was per­haps be­cause of the la­tent fear of an­noy­ing the dragon; the eu­phuism that con­tin­ues to haunt us. In­dia played the In­dio-South Korea friend­ship in sub­dued fash­ion sim­i­larly for many years in def­er­ence to ties with North Korea. Visit of the royal cou­ple was all the more sig­nif­i­cant con­sid­er­ing the rev­er­ence they are ac­corded by the Ja­panese pub­lic.

The Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter him­self is ex­pected to be the chief guest at In­dia’s Repub­lic Day pa­rade 2014. Strate­gic bonds be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan need to be strength­ened on con­tin­u­ous ba­sis; in­creas­ing bi­lat­eral ties and co­op­er­a­tion in trade, de­fence, nu­clear and space seg­ments. The fo­cus on se­cu­rity needs to be en­hanced con­sid­er­ing China’s ag­gres­sive pos­ture that is in­creas­ingly threat­en­ing peace in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion. The ac­cent should there­fore be on mar­itime co­op­er­a­tion and shar­ing of tech­nolo­gies in the do­mains of cy­berspace and the elec­tro­mag­netic. Be­ing an eco­nomic su­per­power for decades, Ja­pan can also as­sist In­dia in the lat­ter’s eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. Ja­pan has un­der­taken sev­eral devel­op­ment projects in In­dia.

The Union Min­is­ter for Road Trans­port and High­way Os­car Fer­nan­dez had re­cently stated that the royal visit fol­lowed by the visit of the Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter will give a boost to the much vaunted tun­nel road­way through Shirdhi Ghat con­nect­ing the coastal city of Man­ga­lore with Ben­galuru. In 2012-13, In­dia-Ja­pan bi­lat­eral trade touched $18.6 bil­lion. As of March 2013, cu­mu­la­tive com­mit­ment of of­fi­cial devel­op­ment as­sis­tance (ODA) was Yen 3,807 bil­lion. Com­pre­hen­sive eco­nomic part­ner­ship agree­ment (CEPA) is in force since Au­gust 2011 and cov­ers such ar­eas as trade in goods and ser­vices, in­vest­ments, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, cus­toms pro­ce­dure.

Re­cently, it was de­cided to ex­pand the bi­lat­eral cur­rency swap ar­range­ment to $50 bil­lion, talks on in­tro­duc­ing high speed rail­way sys­tem in In­dia, pro­gress­ing Delhi-Mum­bai Freight Cor­ri­dor, Del­hiMum­bai In­dus­trial Cor­ri­dor, Chen­nai-Ben­galuru In­dus­trial Cor­ri­dor, in­tro­duc­ing high speed rail­way sys­tem in In­dia, plus co­op­er­a­tion even in mar­itime se­cu­rity and counter ter­ror­ism. Early re­sump­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions for civil nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion and hope for an early con­clu­sion agree­ment is on the cards. With con­gru­ence on most global is­sues, In­dia and Ja­pan have a shared in­ter­est in deal­ing with the chal­lenges posed by an in­creas­ingly as­sertive China. China en­gi­neered the dec­la­ra­tion of the Air De­fence Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone (ADIZ) chal­leng­ing Ja­pan’s sovereignty over Senkaku Is­lands just prior to the royal visit to In­dia.

Though China’s ap­par­ent aim is to test the USJa­pan al­liance and snake for­warded along her ar­bi­trar­ily ex­tended ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, she has in­ad­ver­tently wo­ken up Ja­panese na­tion­al­ism that is not go­ing to take the Chi­nese chal­lenge sub­mis­sively, US sup­port not­with­stand­ing. With in­creas­ing say of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army in the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary Gen­er­als in the pow­er­ful polit­buro, Chi­nese ag­gres­sive­ness will likely in­crease with rise of her com­pre­hen­sive na­tional power. Al­ready China has said that more ADIZs may be an­nounced by her. Pre­sent In­dia-Ja­pan bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship needs to be car­ried much be­yond as the two coun­tries work for global part­ner­ship with con­verg­ing strate­gic in­ter­ests.

Prime Min­is­ter, Dr Man­mo­han Singh with the Em­peror of Ja­pan, His Majesty Ak­i­hito

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