Interaction on India-Japan Relations
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A four-member delegation from Japan Institute of International Affairs, led by Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami, visited VIF on 08 December 2014 for an interaction on India-Japan relations. The interaction broadly encompassed three strategic aspects: strengthening of bilateral relations between Japan and India, domestic development agenda and policies under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific. The responses to views were given by Amb. Rajiv Sikri, Amb. Aftab Seth, and Amb. PP Shukla, following which there was a Q&A session.

In their opening remarks, Directors of the two institutions underlined the increasing significance of stronger bilateral relationship between the two Asian countries in both regional and global strategic framework. While General NC Vij, Director VIF, underscored Japan’s centrality in India’s ‘Act East’ Policy; Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami noted the increasing significance of tri-lateral cooperation between Japan, India and the US in relation to Asia-Pacific. Both, however, agreed on the need for exploring further potential for tri-lateral or even multilateral cooperation amongst regional countries, including Vietnam and Australia. The Indian analysts, while expressing satisfaction over the present state of relationship between the two countries, also stressed on the need for Japan to facilitate the economic prosperity of the regional countries. The economic prospects of Japan and India were also discussed against the backdrop of China’s economy.

The current political trends and their influences on foreign policy making in both the countries were also discussed. Through his structured presentations, Prof Toru Itu explained the rationale behind Prime Minister Abe’s sudden decision to hold mid-term elections, calling it a national referendum on ‘Abenomics’. If re-elected, Abe would push through the second phase of reforms directed towards fiscal consolidation. He also saw great potential in the leadership of the two countries for taking the bilateral cooperation to the next higher level. Interestingly, he paired ‘Abenomics’ with ‘Modinomics’ in his presentation. His recipe for improving bilateral cooperation included, joint efforts towards establishing international norms in Asia, cooperation for democratizing and stabilizing India’s neighbours, and support for ‘Modinomics’ by boosting investments in infrastructure in India.

The Japanese presenters also touched upon the imperatives shaping up their country’s foreign policies. It also emerged from the presentation that Japan is impelled to reinterpret Article 9 of its Constitution against the backdrop of US’ diminishing influence in the region, another imperative for Japan to seek additional alliance partners in the region. Significantly, while Japan’s security threats are getting multiplied, its defence capabilities remain hamstrung due to a pacifist constitution. It was also noted during the interaction that the US rebalancing strategy will be tested against the country’s assumed role of being a net security provider in the region.

In so far as the Indian responses to the above views are concerned, the VIF experts noted with satisfaction the steady rise in the bilateral relationship since Prime Minister Mori’s path-breaking visit to India in 2000. With the bilateral relationship having progressively reached a global strategic level, efforts should be made to secure global commons in domains such as maritime, cyber and outer space, they contended. While Amb Aftab Seth said growing bonhomie between Japan and India is giving comfort to other regional countries, Amb Rajiv Sikri said India is willing to become a stakeholder in the economic prosperity of its neighbours. In so far as the regional cooperation in Asia-Pacific is concerned, the Japanese interlocutors held out TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) as the best template for regional growth. With AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) and EU-Japan cooperation also forming part of the interaction, Amb PP Shukla shared his views about the imperatives for India to balance out its relations with major world powers.

Event Date 
December 8, 2014
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