Converging interests of India and Japan in the Indo-Pacific area

Japan, which has emerged with a brand worth of high high quality, provides huge possibilities for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Made in India’ initiative, felt Mr. Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Residence Affairs, Government of India whilst delivering the keynote address at the conference on ‘Indo-Pacific Region: Converging India-Japan Relations’ organised by Observer Research Foundation on February 13, 2017.

The Minister also felt that till date, India and Japan are however to realise the complete prospective of their strategic partnership. He said in an affirmative stance, India has extended visa on arrival for Japanese citizens traveling to India, remarking ‘every Indian has identified Japan quite close to his/her heart’. In the 1950s, as Japan was recovering from the debris of the Second Globe War and India from the British colonial rule, historical possibilities were missed by both the nations.

According to him, a perceptible adjust in India’s strategy has been through the ‘Act East’ policy – a transformed version of the ‘Look East’ policy. Moreover, Japan and India share frequent characteristics like ancient culture and ideals of democracy and peace.

The 1-day conference, organised in the backdrop of bolstering global consideration on strengthening India-Japan partnership, had three sessions: ‘Geo-strategy in the Indo-Pacific’, ‘Maritime Safety in the Indo-Pacific’ and ‘Connectivity and Financial Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific’.
Delivering the welcome remarks, Mr. H.K. Dua, Advisor, ORF, shed light on closer India-Japan relations. Highlighting numerous arenas where India and Japan have collaborated, or have plans to perform collectively, including maritime safety and trade negotiations, Mr. Dua set the context for the guest speakers to intervene.

US Ambassador to India, Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu, reflected upon the dynamic connection between India and Japan. Undergoing rapid economic progress, India led by Prime Minister Modi and Japan led by Prime Minister Abe are extensively action-oriented nations, he noted. He exhorted the need for both India and Japan to cooperate on improving connectivity. The Ambassador went on to emphasise Japan’s proactive Africa strategy. In the 6th Tokyo Conference on African Improvement, Prime Minister Abe stressed on enhancing intra-regional connectivity and providing strategic fillip to the stretch connecting Asia and Africa.

Delivering keynote address, Dr. Arvind Gupta, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Government of India, enumerated certain future initiatives for emboldening Indo-Japan ties. Very first, the want for each the countries to increase economic cooperation is evident given that PM Modi’s ‘Act East’ is in tandem with the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ strategy of PM Abe. Secondly, connectivity is a important concern there is a need to link up India’s North-east area with other components of the Indo-Pacific. Alongside, India has developed efficient space safety programmes that can be taken advantage of by the Japanese counterparts. He noted that as an help giver, Japan has given maximum funding to India’s development projects.

Geo-technique in the Indo-Pacific
The opening session focused on the subject ‘Geo-strategy in the Indo-Pacific’. A number of modern global adjustments impacting the dynamics of the Indo-Pacific region have been highlighted in this discussion, which was chaired by Dr. Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Analysis Foundation.
Mr. Bilahari Kausikan, Ambassador-at-Massive at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, focused on two principal developments in the planet. Very first, the election of Donald Trump as the President of United States: an indication of a collapse in the liberal international order. He stated that Trump’s election, an occasion that need to neither be exaggerated nor downplayed, is a single from which China reaps the maximum benefit. It enables China to improve its expansionist and imperialistic outlook, the most significant victim of which is the peace inside the Indo-Pacific region. In light of this circumstance in the world order, it is the prerogative of India and Japan to maintain a coherence in the region vis-à-vis the dynamics between USA and China. He then came on to the developments in China. The principal situation of concern relating to China is that of internal safety which is characterised by social unrest and mass protests in view of the anti-corruption policy and the Communist Party’s assertive type of nationalism. Mr. Kausikan also highlighted that China’s narrative of self-rejuvenation is a farce that has been designed in order to re-instate its centrality within the Indo-Pacific area. In addition, China’s rise as a geo-political energy, its encroachment in the South China Sea and its building of islands for military purposes is an additional hotspot that is causing unrest inside this component of the globe.

Following this, Prof. Yoichiro Sato, Dean of International Cooperation and Research at the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan, addressed the present relations of India and Japan with the US, and analysed the future course that these relations should take. Prof. Sato stated that the US requires a burden sharing in its offshore balancing for safety interests, a vacuum that can be filled by India and Japan. Both the countries possess really sturdy relations with the US, which additional strengthens the strategic cooperation between the two. Prof. Sato also highlighted Japan’s help of the US in the coalition mission in Iraq, and its perform in the Indian Ocean that initiated the reconstruction mission in Iraq.

Prof. K.V. Kesavan, Distinguished Fellow, ORF, focused upon the shifting geopolitics in the Indo-pacific region, the developments amongst India and Japan primarily based on the nature of the area, and the growing India-Japan partnership. The Indo-Pacific area integrates two oceans, bringing together a area rich in sources- an aspect that is expected to make it the greatest contributor to international output by the year 2050. This location enjoys a method of interdependence amongst nations. However, strategic threats nonetheless do exist like North Korea, territorial concerns like Taiwan, non-classic safety threats and the rivalry between the US and China. Talking about China, he highlighted the different variables that are responsible for creating it the greatest driver of strategic shift inside this area. China’s military capacity, its financial status, its position as the most significant trade partner for most countries in the region, its sturdy maritime activities and its different partnerships all through the world continue to make it the central focus of the region- a challenge that Japan and India want to overcome with each other. Prof. Kesavan proposed that this be achieved by advertising a totally free and open technique in terms of maritime safety, which can aid settle disputes within this area and increase prospects for development.

The session ended with Dr. Renato Cruz De Castro, Professor at the De La Salle University, providing further emphasis on US-China dynamics, and its influence on the Indo-pacific area. Alluding to World War II, Dr. Castro said that the biggest challenge for nations is to create peace for the duration of a systemic alter i.e. for the duration of the sudden rise of a energy which was anticipated to decline. This systemic alter- the rise and rise of China, so to say, is the biggest challenge that is being faced by countries of the Indo-pacific area. This is the age that has witnessed the end of unipolarity and the emergence of two continental powers — Russia and China against USA. The part of Japan, a US ally and China’s rival, becomes quite essential as it is supplying equipment and assistance to both the US and Philippines in an try to drive out China. Japan is playing an critical role in peace balancing inside the area by curbing China’s excellent game in the South China Sea. Similarly, the smaller powers of the region like Philippines are engaging with energy balancing and bandwagoning, a reaction evident in their policies. With China and Russia on 1 hand, and the US, Philippines along with nations like India on the other, each sides are investing into sophisticated technologies in order to counter each and every other’s growing capabilities. Dr. Castro ended his speech by asserting that unless countries like India and Japan do not join the result in of destroying China’s expansionist policy, Europe’s violent past might become Asia’s future.

With regards to connectivity, New Delhi’s initiative with Japan is a obtain for joint infrastructure projects. India has liberalised, but trade has come down. Trade restrictions want to be removed as there are too numerous barriers, and trade procedures require to be simplified. The involvement of the private sector is very crucial. In the context of India-ASEAN relations, paperless trade, port networks, and skill improvement are crucial.

In conclusion, the key themes of the conference focussed on the following: the concept of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ region, the Trump issue in the US, the need for connectivity — not just inside the Indo-Pacific, but also in between East Asia and the Indo-Pacific, and the expanding Indo-Japan cooperation in a number of spheres.

(This report has been ready with inputs from Baisali Mohanty, Saumia Bhatnagar, Chahrazade Douah, Kartik Bommakanti and Avantika Deb)
BOLA TANGKAS