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India-Japan Relations

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    30th Mar, 2022

Context

Visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kisida to India.

Background

  • Year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of India-Japan diplomatic relations.
  • Prime Minister of both the countries concluded the 14th India-Japan Annual Summit during this visit.
  • India and Japan have enhanced their ties in past several years and the recent visit by Japanese Prime Minister expanded the horizon of cooperation between the two countries.
  • The visit was also important as two countries shared their views of the on-going Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Analysis

History of Japan’s relations with India:

During ancient times:

  • The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilizational ties.
  • Exchange between Japan and India is said to have begun in the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan.
  • In 752 A.D. consecration or eye-opening of the towering statue of Lord Buddha in Todaji Temple (Nara) was performed by an Indian monk, Bodhisena.
  • Indian culture, filtered through Buddhism, has had a great impact on Japanese culture, and this is the source of the Japanese people's sense of closeness to India.
  • It is important to note that since ancient time, India and Japan have never been adversaries.

During Colonial times:

  • The Japan-India Association was set up in 1903, and is today the oldest international friendship body in Japan.
  • Japanese soil was used by Indian revolutionary Rash Bihari Bose to spread the idea of fighting against the British rule for liberating India.
  • It must also be remembered that Azad Hind Fauz was organised with the help of Japanese Army and both fought together against the British forces to free India during the Second World War.

After India gained Independence:

  • After India gained independence, both the countries tried to build a strong foundation on which the current state of their relations rest.
  • In 1949, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru donated an Indian elephant to the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. 
  • This brought a ray of light into the lives of the Japanese people who still had not recovered from defeat in the Second World War.
  • Post the Second World War, India did not attend the San Francisco Conference were Japan was pushed to a corner by the victorious allied power of war.
  • Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations on 28th April, 1952. This treaty was one of the first peace treaties Japan signed after World War II.
  • In 1958, India was the first country to receive loan for developed in Japanese currency.

In the Post-Cold War Era:

  • The fall of Berlin Wall and collapse of USSR gave further impetus to India-Japan relations.
  • India’s East Asia Policy and its need to fill the void, left by the termination of Soviet Union, cemented the bond of between India and Japan even more.
  • Fostering of this relation though received a jolt when India tested it nuclear weapons at Pokaran in 1998 and Japan being a victim of two atomic bombs condemned the former.
  • The relationship between the two countries was soon revived as the then Prime Minister of Japan Yoshiro Mori visited India in the year 2000 and “Global Partnership for India and Japan for 21st Century” was signed.
  • Further upgrade of this relation took place when in 2006, the association between the two countries was elevated and termed as “Global and Strategic Partnership”.
  • In 2014, the relation was ameliorated further to “Special Strategic and Global Partnership”.

Different dimensions of relations between India and Japan:

Strategic Relations:

  • India and Japan are both members of Quad.
Quad: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan, and United States that is maintained by talks between member countries.
  • Both India and Japan are interested maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region and hence are working together towards achieving that goal.
  • China shares bitter history with both India and Japan.
  • China’s rise and muscle flexing has been caused escalation of its border tension with India and Japan and hence a common strategy to deal with the Dragon is felt necessary.
  • India and Japan’s recently concluded trilateral partnership with Italy to counter China and maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific also showcases common ground in strategic sphere between the two countries.
  • India and Japan are also camping for a seat in United Nations Security Council as Permanent Members. Both the countries are strong advocates of reforms in UN and its affiliate institutions.

Economic ties between India and Japan:

  • India and Japan have signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in 2011.
  • Japan is one of the biggest investor in India. Some of the Mega Projects with Japanese investments are:
  • Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor
  • Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail
  • Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor
  • Trade between India and Japan stood at $ 16.95 billion in the FY 2019-20.
  • Main items of export from India to Japan are:
  • Petroleum products
  • Textiles
  • Iron ore
  • Fish and fish products
  • Important items that India imports from Japan are:
  • Electronic goods
  • Automobile parts
  • Steel products
  • Recently India, Australia and Japan formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative. The initiative was launched to counter the dominance of China in the Global Supply Chain.
  • The Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)between India and Japan also has potential to deepen economic relations between the two.
Technical Intern Training Program: Aims to send Indian technical interns to Japan for on-the-job training for a period of three to five years.

Japan has agreed to train Indian youths on its industrial floors and contribute in Skill India and Make in India projects.

Disaster Management:

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and Japan’s Fujita Corporation are conducting joint research in the field of earthquake disaster prevention.

Way forward

  • India and Japan need to enhance their people to people contact even more.
  • Japan’s ageing economy can be sustained by India’s human resource.
  • Both countries can together help keep China in check.
  • Japan can be a source of further capital investment in India, especially has less investment opportunities now are visible for the former in China due to deteriorating relations between the two.
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