- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Japan to take part in an annual summit with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, to take stock of the challenges both nations face, notably with regard to the U.S. and China.
2. This will be the 13th annual summit and the fifth one to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
3. Japan is one of the only two countries with which India holds annual bilateral summits, the other being Russia.
4. The agenda for the upcoming summit includes defence pacts and collaboration for connectivity projects in the Indo-Pacific region.
5. The Summit is expected to launch “a concrete infrastructure project implemented together” in South Asia.
6. Under the framework of the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan, the two leaders would also have wide-ranging discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
7. Impact of US tariffs on both nations: USA recent actions on trade tariffs, sanctions against Iran and Russia, as well as the U.S.’s exit from several multilateral and security regimes are impacting both countries in different ways.
- For India, the impact is more direct, as the economy has been hurt by new American tariffs, review of its GSP (trading) status, and restrictions on visas for professionals.
- For Japan too, U.S. trade tariffs are a concern, particularly off-again nuclear negotiations with North Korea.
- Washington’s exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is corralling Southeast Asian countries into a free trade regime under Chinese domination which poses looming challenges for Japan.
8. Tackling challenges:
- India and Japan have to chart a way forward with their common neighbour, China, especially on building and financing alternatives to China’s Belt and Road projects for countries along the “Asia-Africa growth corridor”.
- India and Japan must closely cooperate on managing challenges from U.S. while maintaining their growing security ties with Washington, as members of the trilateral and quadrilateral formations in the Indo-Pacific.
9. Japan significance for India:
- The Shinkansen bullet train project (Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor) has gathered speed, with the Japan International Cooperation Agency releasing the first tranche of ₹5,500 crore recently.
- India and Japan have stepped up military exchanges, but pending purchase of ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian aircraft should be carried forward.
|The first joint military exercise named “Dharma Guardian” between India and Japan was held in Mizoram recently.|
The exercise is aimed at developing mutual understanding and respect between militaries of both countries, as also facilitate in tracking worldwide phenomenon of terrorism
10. Concerns for India:
· In 2011, India and Japan began implementing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), yet seven years later, bilateral trade has yet to hit even the $20 billion mark. India’s exports to Japan have in fact contracted in four of the past six years.
· Since early 2010, Japan and India have discussed joint infrastructure projects in third countries, including announcing an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor. But not a single project has taken off under this.
· The framework of Indo-Japanese defence ties has grown considerably, including a classified military information security protection agreement, and the ongoing logistical support cooperation talks.
· Yet, 10 years later, the two sides have failed to realise the sale of a single defence article and there exists no conventional threat-specific contingency scenario in which the two militaries can practicably cooperate.
11. Way forward:
· An anti-China coalition can only help in bolstering strategic congruence between India and Japan.
· Rather, Japan must adopt a more independent-minded approach in the Indo-Pacific that is less attached to the West and more amenable to partners like India.