Joint state­Ment Maps out road For in­dia-Ja­pan ties

One tall bar­rier could be the rel­a­tive un­fa­mil­iar­ity with Ja­panese lan­guage in the past in­ter­ac­tions among In­di­ans and Ja­panese.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

The Prime Min­is­ter of Ja­pan, Shinzo Abe vis­ited In­dia on 13 and 14 Septem­ber 2017 for the an­nual In­dia-Ja­pan Prime Min­is­te­rial Sum­mit. This visit was unique be­cause his itin­er­ary was en­tirely in Gu­jarat, open­ing the doors to sim­i­lar such state-level vis­its by heads of govern­ment, re­flect­ing In­dia’s di­verse States-Union tra­di­tion.

There was pal­pa­ble ex­cite­ment in Ahmed­abad/ Gand­hi­na­gar for the visit of Ja­pan’s first cou­ple, Shinzo and Akie Abe, as com­pared to the jaded dis­in­ter­est that is com­mon in Lu­tyens Delhi for the now-un­end­ing stream of dig­ni­taries that come through the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. In­deed, the next sum­mit in In­dia in 2019 could be in the south­ern states.

The high­lights of the Abes’ in­ter­ac­tions with the pub­lic were their marigold be­decked open-jeep greet- ings with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to throngs of ex­cited Gu­jaratis lin­ing the streets and the muchan­tic­i­pated foun­da­tion stone lay­ing cer­e­mony for the Shinkansen Mum­baiAhmed­abad bul­let train con­struc­tion project, ex­pected to be com­pleted around 2022. The Abes too ap­peared to be en­er­gised by the warm re­cep­tion they re­ceived, and PM Abe in his ex­u­ber­ance, de­clared “I re­ally like In­dia and I will do what­ever I can do for In­dia”. This is not in­signif­i­cant, given that some in the lead­er­ship of an­other large econ­omy in Asia, by com­par­i­son, ap­pear to be tak­ing fre­quent pot-shots at In­dia.

The Joint State­ment at the con­clu­sion of the Prime Min­is­te­rial Sum­mit calls for align­ment of Ja­pan’s Free and Open Indo-Pa­cific Strat­egy with In­dia’s Act East Pol­icy, in­clud­ing through en­hanc­ing mar­itime se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion, im­prov­ing con­nec­tiv­ity in the wider In­doPa­cific re­gion, strength­en­ing co­op­er­a­tion with ASEAN, and pro­mot­ing dis­cus­sions be­tween strate­gists and ex­perts of the two coun­tries. It ad­vances the need for part­ner­ships for pros­per­ity through In­dia-Ja­pan In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion, speedy im­ple­men­ta­tion of key in­fra­struc­ture projects, and ad­vanc­ing co­op­er­a­tion in the fields of en­ergy, smart cities, in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy, space, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, biotech­nol­ogy, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and health.

Both In­dia and Ja­pan have a for­mi­da­ble num­ber and range of hu­man re­sources and ex­per­tise in sec­tors men­tioned in the Joint State­ment, how­ever, one tall bar­rier could be the rel­a­tive un­fa­mil­iar­ity with Ja­panese lan­guage in the past in­ter­ac­tions among In­di­ans and Ja­panese. Ja­panese lan­guage teach­ing in In­dia was stressed in the Joint State­ment, as was col­lab­o­ra­tion in the fields of tourism, civil avi­a­tion, higher ed­u­ca­tion, women’s ed­u­ca­tion, skills devel­op­ment and sports. For many In­di­ans, who have grown up with mul­ti­ple-lan­guages and mul­ti­cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment in a multi-re­li­gious-and-eth­nic so­ci­ety, adding one more lan­guage to our portfolio may not be such a dif­fi­cult task, es­pe­cially if Ja­panese lan­guage skill is as­so­ci­ated with in-com­ing skilled jobs with Make in In­dia in­vest­ment from Ja­pan.

On the en­hanced con­nec­tiv­ity of Pa­cific-In­dian Ocean, the two Prime Min­is­ters plan to work to­gether to en­hance con­nec­tiv­ity in In­dia and with other coun­tries in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion, in­clud­ing Africa. This in­cludes the devel­op­ment of industrial cor­ri­dors and industrial net­works for the growth of Asia and Africa, which will ben­e­fit var­i­ous stake­hold­ers in the In­doPa­cific re­gion, in­clud­ing Africa. They shared the de­sire to fur­ther pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion in Africa, just as com­pa­nies like Maruti-Suzuki have been ex­port­ing to numer­ous African na­tions.

The Joint State­ment also pre­scribes en­hanced de­fence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion and di­a­logues, de­fence equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy co­op­er­a­tion in such areas as sur­veil­lance and un­manned sys­tem tech­nolo­gies, and de­fence in­dus­try co­op­er­a­tion.

As is cus­tom­ary with joint state­ments, there is a litany of ini­tia­tives and pro­grammes men­tioned. How­ever, lit­tle by way of analysis and eval­u­a­tion. What has hap­pened to var­i­ous joint en­deav­ours? Have they re­sulted in business go­ing con­cerns or faded into obliv­ion? What can we learn from those ex­pe­ri­ences?

In a first, PM Abe and PM Modi stressed the im­por­tance of hold­ing ac­count­able all par­ties that have sup­ported North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grammes, a not-so-veiled ref­er­ence to the widely sus­pected Pak­istan and China, which have re­port­edly been overtly, covertly and un­of­fi­cially sup­port­ive.

It is quite fas­ci­nat­ing that Modi and Abe have re­turned to the theme of “Con­flu­ence of the Two Seas”, mean­ing the Pa­cific and In­dian Oceans, which was the ti­tle of a 1655 book au­thored by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, who was the son and heirap­par­ent of Em­peror Shah Ja­han. Dara Shikoh as­sid­u­ously sought un­der­stand­ing with dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties and re­li­gions. This book ti­tle was em­pha­sised by Prime Min­is­ter Abe in his fa­mous speech to In­dian Par­lia­ment on 22 Au­gust 2007, dur­ing his first term in of­fice. That Dara Shikoh was as­sas­si­nated by his brother Au­rangzeb, a despot, in or­der to seize power, is of­ten not re­mem­bered. Thus, rec­ol­lect­ing In­dia’s his­tory, PM Abe’s 2007 speech aimed at gov­er­nance through peace and by ex­ten­sion peace through strength, would be an es­sen­tial shared vi­sion; not merely peace through good in­ten­tions and hope, and that is in­deed the path that In­dia and Ja­pan have em­barked on. Dr Su­nil Chacko, a grad­u­ate of Har­vard, has been a fac­ulty mem­ber in the US, Canada, In­dia and Ja­pan. Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s visit to In­dia ear­lier this week has aug­mented In­dia-Ja­pan de­fence ties sig­nif­i­cantly and has irked China on ex­pected lines. While ex­perts in In­dia see the boost in de­fence ties be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan in a pos­i­tive light, many ex­pect a “larger re­turn in streams other than the bul­let train”. Ex­perts also hoped that China would take lessons in re­gional co-op­er­a­tion from strength­en­ing In­di­aJa­pan ties. Ex­plain­ing China’s dis­plea­sure, A.B. Ma­ha­p­a­tra, chair­man, Cen­tre for Asian Strate­gic Stud­ies-In­dia (CASSIn­dia), said, “China’s para­mount con­cern is not Ja­pan’s in­vest­ment in In­dia, but In­dia and Ja­pan’s global part­ner­ship. There is a larger pic­ture of In­dia and Ja­pan in­vest­ing in Africa that China is wor­ried about. China has in­vested in Africa, but has been bullish too. Africans pre­fer In­dia over China. So, if now Africa has a choice other than China, they will be able to oust China. Botswana has been vo­cal about their dis­con­tent with the Chi­nese too.” Other than the sub­ject of pref­er­ence, Africa needs in­vest­ments in other sec­tors that are not China’s forte. “Sec­tors like ed­u­ca­tion, agri­cul­ture etc., are where part­ner­ship be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan will work won­ders in Africa. China is not even present in these sec­tors, be­cause their in­vest­ments are on dif­fer­ent scales in metal, con­struc­tion and ma­chin­ery sec­tors. So, Ja­pan can in­vest in In­dia’s bul­let trains or North­east, but for China, the In­dia-Ja­pan part­ner­ship on a global scale presents in­di­rect com­pe­ti­tion,” said Ma­ha­p­a­tra.

Pranay Ko­tasthane, re­search fel­low, Tak­shashila In­sti­tute, said, “Abe’s visit is a tes­ti­mony to the fact China’s eco­nomic and mil­i­tary rise is bound to co­a­lesce some of its neigh­bours against China. And this will hap­pen re­gard­less of the cul­tural im­ped­i­ments, ide­o­log­i­cal fix­a­tions and po­lit­i­cal hes­i­ta­tions in these coun­tries. Ja­pan as the only East Asian coun­try with both the in­ter­est and the power to con­struct a re­gional bal­ance of power to counter Chi­nese dom­i­na­tion in the re­gion, cur­rently faces se­cu­rity chal­lenges from both China and North Korea.” Ko­tasthane added, “Thus, any move that lends a hand to an in­crease in Ja­panese power is good for In­dia. This Indo-Ja­panese co­op­er­a­tion will also drive home the point in China that its own ef­forts through ar­ro­gant, provoca­tive, threat­en­ing, and even racist words and deeds have been partly re­spon­si­ble in driv­ing China’s neigh­bours against it. The joint state­ment talks about en­hanced mar­itime se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion, tech­nol­ogy co­op­er­a­tion in sur­veil­lance and un­manned sys­tem tech­nolo­gies, de­fence in­dus­try co­op­er­a­tion, and ex­pan­sion in scale and com­plex­ity of joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises. All these are pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments for In­dia and Ja­pan. Though the sale of US-2 am­phib­ian air­craft could not be fi­nalised dur­ing this visit, it should not be seen as a fail­ure. The Ja­panese de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ers, bu­reau­cracy, and pub­lic opinion are still com­ing to terms with a changed world.”

Ma­ha­p­a­tra said: “For Ja­pan, in­vest­ing in de­fence ties with In­dia is not much of an ide­o­log­i­cal con­cern, but is more fi­nan­cial in na­ture. In­di­ans pre­fer cap­ping the price, while most na­tions pro­vid­ing tech­nol­ogy do not warmly wel­come this for­mat. Ja­pan has not been much flex­i­ble on this point and In­di­ans have been tra­di­tion­ally un­will­ing to pay more for the same prod­uct in fu­ture. In­dia and Ja­pan also have a lot to achieve in space and nu­clear co-op­er­a­tion, but these points on the lists will re­quire to be checked one by one.”

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