PM Modi's Visit to Japan | An Analysis

PM Modi’s Visit to Japan from 10–12 November 2016, was a part of the Annual Bilateral Meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This was the third bilateral meeting as part of the ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnershipand eighth bilateral meet between the two Prime Ministers of India and Japan. In the last Annual Bilateral Meet held at New Delhi in December 2015, the two leaders had outlined a ‘Vision of Working Together for Peace and Prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region and the World’.

PM Modi’s Visit | Agreements/MoUs

PM Modi's Visit

  • The signing of the Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (Civil Nuclear Deal) on 11 November was an important milestone (See India-Japan Nuclear Deal).
  • Japan reaffirmed its commitment to work towards facilitating the entry of India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • Memorandum of Understanding on the ‘Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Program’ (aimed at furthering ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’), provides for preparing a 30000 strong skilled workforce and establishment of Japan-India Institute for Manufacturing (JIM) in three states by the summer of 2017.
  • MoU between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) intends to strengthen the bilateral cooperation, identify and carry out mutually beneficial cooperative projects on space applications, space exploration, research and development and promotion of the space industry.
  • Collaboration in data sharing, joint research in marine and earth sciences as well as in the fields of agriculture and food industries, promoting investment in infrastructure projects in India, and improving the quality of Indian textiles for the Japanese market are some of the other major agreements that were inked.

PM Modi’s Visit | Future collaboration

PM Modi's Visit - Future

  • This relationship can be taken to the next level with increasing synergy between Japan’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy’ and India’s ‘Act East’ policy which provides an opportunity to expand influence in the Pacific and Indian Oceans to include Asia and Africa.
  • The issue of the sale of amphibious aircraft ShinMaywa US-2i needs to be resolved at the earliest. The US-2i amphibious aircraft is the best in its class, has multifarious roles and will be the first overseas military sale by Japan, since their self-imposed arms export ban in 1967. It could not be brought to the table due to pricing, lack of firm commitment on the numbers required and other issues such as transfer of technology.

PM Modi’s Visit | Significance

  • In the last decade Japanese FDI in India grew by six times. The acceleration has been very visible in the last two years and there are now, more than 1200 Japanese companies operating in India.
  • Japanese investments have been opened for strategic regions too such as Andaman and Nicobar Islands and North East India. India is also negotiating with Bangladesh to open up its deep sea port of Dhaka for Japanese investments to counter Chinese offer for assistance.
  • Today, the largest and best-known supplier of heavy forgings (required for components of nuclear plants) is Japan Steel Works (JSW) which claims 80% share of the world market. This nuclear deal will facilitate companies having major Japanese investments to set up nuclear projects in India. 
  • Japan is the source of world class technology, both in military and non-military products. India can also avail vast opportunities from Japanese education sector. Japanese population has been ageing fast, hence it requires demographic dividend to secure stability and economic growth. The MoU to facilitate easier visa standards for Indian students works in the same direction.

One of the prime drivers of this symbiotic relationship is the perceived Chinese threat factor. Overemphasis of this facet, however, cannot drive India-Japan bilateral relations forward. The relationship needs to be nurtured by intense economic engagements, technological exchanges, security cooperation and people-to-people ties.

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