Indo-Japan ties at an all time best : why Japan as ‘very close friend’ will change the face of India !

Narendra Modi, just after announcing the demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes, left for an extremely important 3 day visit to Japan for annual bilateral summit. Prime Minister Modi’s focus on strengthening the Indo-Japan ties is visionary, as Japan is not only a global leader in the field of technology, but also a very important strategic partner in Asia. The importance of stronger Indo-Japan ties is not only crucial for a strong, technologically advanced India, but also for the stability of asia and the world. In his address, honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The growing convergence of views between Japan and India and our special strategic and global partnership have the capacity to drive the regional economy and development, and stimulate global growth. Strong India and strong Japan will not only enrich our two nations, it will also be a stabilizing factor in Asia and the world.

The growing bonhomie between PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart is well known, as this is the eighth meeting between the two leaders since PM Modi took over the reigns of the country. The personal friendship between the two of the greatest world leaders has propelled a stronger Indo-Japan ties. Last year, Japan agreed to build the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train route. It becomes even more significant because the interest on loan that Japan has decided is extremely low and has to be paid over many decades. Japan has heavily invested in India in various sectors and this is expected to grow more. Let us see how India is going to benefit from Modi’s Japan visit.

  1. Nuclear Deal : In what can be termed as a landmark, India and Japan signed the historic civil nuclear deal. .The deal would allow Japan to export nuclear technology to India, making it the first non-NPT signatory to have such a deal with Tokyo. Japan is a major player in the nuclear energy market and an atomic deal with it will make it easier for US-based nuclear plant makers Westinghouse Electric Corporation and GE Energy Inc to set up atomic plants in India as both these conglomerates have Japanese investments.
  2. High Speed Railways : The first bullet train project of India is already being financed and constructed by Japan. The bullet train project linking financial capital Mumbai to the economic hub of Ahmedabad – a distance of 500 km will start next year and is expected to be complete by 2023. Japan has agreed to provide loans to cover up to 81 percent of the cost of one at an extremely low interest rate. With relations not so good with China, and PM Modi ambitious to connect all the major cities with high speed trains, Japan may well be bagging another bullet train projects. On Saturday, PM Modi will take a Shinkansen ride to Kobe where he will visit the Kawasaki heavy industries facility where the high speed Shinkansen trains are manufactured. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has persistently been promoting Japan’s signature Shinkansen technology as he looks to triple infrastructure exports to $287 billion by 2020.
  3. Skill Development : Japan – a country which became the global leader in technology, electronics and manufacturing – did so by imparting skills to its population. Japan will set up skill development institutes in Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan which will train villagers in manufacturing. “Japan’s private sector will set up an institute of manufacturing in India to train 30,000 people in 10 years, especially in rural areas,” Japanese PM Abe said. Modi added, “Our dialogue in regard to training and skills development has broken new ground, and is an important component of our economic partnership.”
  4. Defense Procurement : If everything goes well, India is very soon going to receive US-2 aircrafts, which are the best amphibious aircrafts in the world. These US-2 amphibious aircrafts can take off from and land at both water and land. The two countries have been trying to close a deal on the supply of amphibious rescue aircraft US-2 to the Indian navy, which would be one of Japan’s first sales of military equipment since Abe lifted a 50-year ban on arms exports. These US-2 planes are manufactured by ShinMaywa industries of Japan.
  5. Foreign Direct Investment and Trade : After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, the FDI from Japan has increased to US$ 2.79 Billion (2015-16) from US $ 1.72 billion in 2013-14, a sharp increase in excess of 25 %. With an expansion in trade and more business friendly initiatives, the FDI is expected to increase even more, giving a much needed boost to the industries, manufacturing and jobs. Stating that economic links between the two countries continued to flourish, PM Modi said: “Trade ties continue to grow. And, investments from Japan are on the rise. Japanese companies have much to gain by participating in our flagship development initiatives. We, in turn, have much to gain from Japan’s unparalleled status as the leader in technology and innovation.”
  6. Cooperation in security and combating terrorism : The two countries will be strengthening their cooperation on key security issues, combating the threat of cyber warfare and fighting terrorism.
  7. UN Reforms : India and Japan also called for “expeditious reforms of the UN including the UNSC to make it more legitimate, effective and representative, taking into account the contemporary realities of the 21st century and reiterated their resolve to work closely with like-minded partners to realise this goal. The two Prime Ministers reiterated their support for each other’s candidature, based on the firmly shared recognition that India and Japan are legitimate candidates for permanent membership in expanded UNSC” (official statement)

The growing ties between India and Japan is surely benefiting India in every sector and is much needed for fulfilling the ambition of India to be a developed country and an economic superpower ! Kudos to the shrewd diplomacy and vision of the Prime Minister Modi and cooperation from his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who very well knows the opportunities in India and the importance of India in maintaining power balance in Asia !

Kshitij Mohan