Indo-Ja­panese Strate­gic Part­ner­ship boosted

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Indo-Ja­panese re­la­tions have al­ways been spe­cial. Even dur­ing the re­cent Dok­lam stand­off, it was Ja­pan’s en­voy to In­dia Kenji Hi­ra­matsu who said there should be no at­tempt to change the sta­tus quo on the ground by force; cat­e­go­riz­ing the cri­sis as dis­pute be­tween China and Bhutan, he said In­dia’s ac­tions were in keep­ing with bi­lat­eral se­cu­rity ar­range­ments with Bhutan. It is in this back­drop that Ja­panese Shinjo Abe was ar­riv­ing at Ahmedabad on a three-day visit com­menc­ing Septem­ber 13 for bi­lat­eral talks with Prime Min­is­ter Modi.

Prior to Abe’s visit, For­eign Sec­re­tary S. Jais­hankar ad­dress­ing an Indo-Ja­pan col­lo­quium said the In­dia and Ja­pan are set to take their co­op­er­a­tion in civil nu­clear and de­fence tech­nol­ogy to the next level, adding, “Ja­pan’s open­ness to sup­ply In­dia with mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy re­flects the high-level of con­fi­dence that the two coun­tries have de­vel­oped in each other…. “The grow­ing con­ver­gence of views be­tween Ja­pan and In­dia has the ca­pac­ity to drive Asia’s econ­omy and de­vel­op­ment and stim­u­late the global growth. ... (we) have agreed to co­op­er­ate closely to pro­mote con­nec­tiv­ity, in­fra­struc­ture and ca­pac­ity build­ing in the re­gions that oc­cupy the in­ter-linked wa­ters of the Indo-Pa­cific. It is ob­vi­ous that the in­ter­ac­tion now has a sig­nif­i­cance beyond the bi­lat­eral. The Asia-Africa Growth Cor­ri­dor is just one ex­am­ple.”

The land­mark civil nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion deal be­tween the two coun­tries came into force in July 2017, hav­ing been signed last Novem­ber dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s visit to Tokyo. Modi re­ceived Abe at Ahmedabad air­port on Septem­ber 13 and both vis­ited the Sabar­mati Ashram. The ground-break­ing cer­e­mony of the ‘high speed’ rail net­work (worth Rs 1,00,000 crore) be­tween Ahmedabad and Mum­bai was presided over by both Prime Min­is­ters on Septem­ber 14. Ground-break­ing cer­e­mony for in­fra­struc­ture and in­dus­trial pro­jects worth over ` 25,000 crore was also held, as well as meet­ing of busi­ness and coun­try del­e­ga­tions. Modi and Abe held wide rang­ing talks. Post sign­ing the joint state­ment, Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said, “We have just signed a joint state­ment which will serve as a mile­stone to open a new era for Ja­pan-In­dia re­la­tion­ship... based on that we will strongly pro­mote Ja­pan-In­dia spe­cial strate­gic and global part­ner­ship to drive peace and pros­per­ity for Indo-Pa­cific re­gion and the whole world.”

The two coun­tries signed 15 MoUs on Septem­ber 14 that in­clude: one, co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion in dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion; two, Ja­panese lan­guage ed­u­ca­tion in In­dia; three, In­dia Ja­pan Act East Fo­rum to en­hance con­nec­tiv­ity and pro­mote de­vel­op­men­tal pro­jects in the north­east­ern re­gion of In­dia; four, be­tween In­dia Post and Ja­pan Post on ad­min­is­tra­tive in­struc­tion for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ‘Cool EMS’ ser­vice; five, In­dia-Ja­pan In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Road map be­tween DIPP and METI to fa­cil­i­tate and ac­cel­er­ate Ja­panese in­vest­ments in In­dia; six, be­tween METI and Gu­jarat on ‘Ja­pan-In­dia spe­cial pro­gramme for ‘Make In In­dia’’ in Man­dal Bechraj-Kho­raj re­gion; seven, Civil Avi­a­tion Co­op­er­a­tion – opens skies be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan; eight, joint ex­change pro­gram be­tween in­ter-dis­ci­plinary the­o­ret­i­cal and math­e­mat­i­cal sciences pro­gram; nine, joint re­search con­tract be­tween the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced In­dus­trial Sci­ence & Tech­nol­ogy (AIST), Ja­pan, and the Depart­ment of Biotech­nol­ogy (DBT) to con­duct joint re­search and to es­tab­lish an in­ter­na­tional cen­tre; ten, be­tween DBT and Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Sci­ence & Tech­nol­ogy (AIST); eleven, in­ter­na­tional aca­demic and sports ex­change be­tween Lak­sh­mibai Na­tional In­sti­tute of Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion (LNIPE) and Nip­pon Sports Sci­ence Univer­sity, Ja­pan (NSSU); twelve, on in­ter­na­tional aca­demic and sports ex­change be­tween the Sports Au­thor­ity of In­dia and Nip­pon Sports Sci­ence Univer­sity, Ja­pan (NSSU); thir­teen, be­tween LNIPE and the Univer­sity of Tsukuba, Ja­pan to strengthen strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tion, joint re­search pro­grams; four­teen, be­tween Sports Au­thor­ity of In­dia and Univer­sity of Tsukuba, Ja­pan to strengthen strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tion, joint re­search pro­gram and ex­changes, and; fif­teen, be­tween RIS and IDE-JETRO for pro­mo­tion of co­op­er­a­tion in re­search-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­mote in­sti­tu­tional co­op­er­a­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Modi, while ad­dress­ing a joint press event with Abe, said Indo-Ja­pan ties were not lim­ited to bi­lat­eral or re­gional spheres. The two sides also closely co­op­er­ated on key global is­sues. In­dia and Ja­pan have in­creased de­fence co­op­er­a­tion with more bi­lat­eral com­bat ex­er­cises, ex­changes and col­lab­o­ra­tion in mil­i­tary and dual-use tech­nolo­gies, in back­drop of in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive China. Dur­ing the re­cent visit of former De­fence Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley (be­fore he handed over charge de­fence port­fo­lio) Ja­pan pro­posed to field its state-of-art mil­i­tary as­sets, in­clud­ing the P-1 mar­itime pa­trol air­craft with po­tent anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties, for the Mal­abar ex­er­cise next year. The two na­tions will also en­hance their co­op­er­a­tion on counter-ter­ror­ism, which will in­clude a joint field ex­er­cise be­tween the armies of the two coun­tries in 2018. The two coun­tries also de­cided to be­gin tech­ni­cal dis­cus­sions for joint re­search on un­manned ground ve­hi­cles and robotics, as also carry for­ward the talks on Ja­panese US-2i am­phibi­ous air­craft. If there was any dis­cus­sion on these is­sues dur­ing Abe’s visit, it was kept un­der wraps.

In keep­ing with ‘In­dia-Ja­pan Vi­sion 2025’, ro­bust bi­lat­eral re­la­tions have laid the foun­da­tion to ex­pand the scope of co­op­er­a­tion in the Indo-Pa­cific. It is im­per­a­tive for both In­dia and Ja­pan to en­gage in for­ward thinking to ac­com­plish the full po­ten­tial of this ‘Spe­cial Strate­gic and Global Part­ner­ship’.

It is im­per­a­tive for both In­dia and Ja­pan to en­gage in for­ward thinking to ac­com­plish the full po­ten­tial of this ‘Spe­cial Strate­gic and Global Part­ner­ship’.

LT GEN­ERAL P.C. KA­TOCH (RETD)

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