Sunday, May 22News That Matters

The visit of Japan’s Prime Minister emphasizes the importance of bilateral ties with India at a time of geopolitical turmoil. 

The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to India was notable for several reasons. First, his decision to pay his first bilateral state visit to New Delhi since taking office in October last year emphasizes the significance of the relationship for Tokyo. Owing to the epidemic, the annual summit-level meeting between the countries has been canceled in the last two years, and in 2019, the summit with then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — scheduled to take place in Guwahati — was canceled due to protests against changes to India’s citizenship law. Kishida’s visit coincides with the two countries’ 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations. However, the relationship was not as tight as it may have been for much of that time. When Delhi and Tokyo forged a “Strategic and Global Partnership” in 2006, it gained prominence and depth. Since then, the two countries have grown closer through commerce, military drills, and agreement on a rules-based maritime order. Kishida’s visit is a reaffirmation of the countries’ tight economic and strategic ties, as well as a blueprint for furthering the alliance amid the current global turmoil. 

It’s impressive that the 2014 Investment Promotion Partnership’s aim of 3.5 trillion Japanese Yen (JPY) was met. The news that Japan will invest a total of 5 trillion yen shows that Japanese businesses and government officials continue to consider India as a viable investment destination. It also suggests that Asia’s second and third largest economies can work together effectively in the face of Chinese supremacy. The investment will include a wide range of operations, effectively boosting Japanese investments, skilling Indian labor, and establishing supply networks in India. In addition, the two countries have agreed to collaborate on digital security and green technologies. The joint statement and briefings by officials from both sides also show forward action on the strategic front: Both countries underlined their resolve to cooperate to maintain “peace and stability” in Afghanistan in the statement, which condemned Pakistan-sponsored terror acts on Indian soil. 

Despite the recent events in Ukraine, Tokyo and New Delhi have managed to portray a united front in their dealings with China. While Kishida criticized Russia’s strike, India’s response was to appeal for peace and discussion. This is consistent with the two countries’ respective positions and strategic needs, as well as the fact that their common interests outweigh their disagreements. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s foreign secretary, confirmed that the two countries had discussed China’s aggressive stance in the Indo-Pacific, as well as its encroachment on India’s land borders, and added that it could not be “business as usual” with Beijing until the standoff in Ladakh is peacefully resolved. Given China’s recent overtures and the possibility of a visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Delhi’s expressed commitment to the rules-based order will undoubtedly reassure Tokyo. This goodwill, bolstered by Kishida’s visit, may be built upon in the upcoming 2+2 ministerial summit for stronger cooperation. 

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