Exploring grounds of convergence

| | in Oped
Exploring grounds of convergence

Japan is a technological power and can play a key role in transforming rising Asian powers like India. The Indo-Japan relation is among the strongest relationships and must be advanced to the next level

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Ahmedabad today to perform the bhoomi pujan (ground breaking ceremony) for the highspeed railway network corridor being built between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

He, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also lay the foundation for two Japanese industrial park at Sanand, Gujarat, which will attract Rs 20,000 crore investments. The park will have a Japanese residential colony, the first of its kind in India.

Besides, Japan is also developing an industrial corridor that spans across the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and is also bringing investment and jobs.

Seen in a historical context, the India-Japan relationship goes back to more than a century. Okakura Kakuzo (1862-1913), a contemporary of Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda, visited India in 1901-02. Famous revolutionary Rash Behari Bose (1885-1945) spent half of his life in Japan. Tagore visited Japan (1915) and later introduced Judo (1924), the martial art of Japan, into India through the Visva Bharati curriculum.

Of late, the Indo-Japanese relationship has assumed dimensions of strategic partnership under Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after the Liberal Democratic Party won the December 2012 election in Japan.

The historic visit of Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, in November 2013 to India was a watershed moment in the Indo-Japanese relationship.

The six-day tour resulted from the recommendations made by the Japanese Cabinet led by nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In 2014, with the victory of nationalist leader Narandra Modi, India and Japan are all set to make history. India is the only non-signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty with which Japan and India signed a nuclear deal in 2016 when Prime Minister Modi visited Japan.

The deal enables Japan to supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology to India. Looking at the future, it is the defence cooperation that is expected to significantly contribute to the emerging relationship.

There is already cooperation between the Naval forces of both the countries and now, the focus is on bringing the two Air Forces closer. The India-Japan-US trilateral Malabar Naval exercise is paving the ground for greater military cooperation.

The ‘Malabar 2017’ is the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the Indian Ocean, as President of the United States, Donald Trump, said during the Modi-Trump summit in June 2017. The historic joint Naval exercise saw the debut of JS Izumo in an exercise with the US and Indian navies.

This year’s Malabar exercise is notable on several fronts — it’s the first Naval exercise between three countries to involve aircraft carriers from each side.

The Indian Navy has deployed INS Vikramaditya whereas, the US has sent the USS Nimitz — the super carrier to the exercises. Sixteen ships, two submarines and more than 95 aircrafts were part of the exercise in the Bay of Bengal.

India-Japan defence and security cooperation now needs to be exalted to the next level.

In a joint statement with Japanese Defence Minister, General Nakatani, Japan and India have pledged to deepen bilateral defence ties along with the establishment of a Joint Working Group on Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation.

The $1.3 billion defence deal of procurement of 12 Japan-made ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft, for the Indian Navy, needs to be expedited. It will also be a landmark in Tokyo’s efforts to shed its post-war ban on weapons trade and get the ball rolling for a new chapter in strategic military cooperation between the two nations.

Over the past decade and a half, Japanese investment has played significant role in India’s growth story. Japan invested more than $25 billion in different sectors across India during the period from 2000 to 2017. Currently, Japan is the third biggest investor in India, and investment from Japan increased substantially during 2016-17.

Japanese investments in India, during this period reached $4.7 billion, an 80 per cent increase over the $2.6 billion of 2015-16.

Most importantly, Japan pledged investments of around $35 billion for the period of 2014-19 to boost India’s manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.

India and Japan are also working on Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), which was unveiled on May 23 this year, during the 52nd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the son of Foreign Minister of Japan, Shintaro Abe and grandson of a Prime Minister, Kan Abe.

According to Shinzo, he learnt from his father, Shintaro, one of most accomplished diplomats in the post-war Japan, the importance and sacrifices that need to be made to lead a public life.

Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe’s plan to ‘restore Japan’ is unfolding as the story of the re-emergence of one of the greatest nations of the world.

Japan is the oldest democracy of Asia and post 2012, the journey of Japan has many lessons for the largest democracy of Asia — India.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resounding victory and re-election in 2016 provided him with opportunities to rejuvenate the Japanese economy, revising the post-war Constitution and to allow more conventional military in sync with the contemporary security needs in Asia.

The revival of ‘Shintoism’ has played a pivotal role in reinvigorating the Japanese approach to emerging strategic geo-political needs. Japan is all set to play a more meaningful role in the Asia-Pacific region for maintaining peace and order in Asia.

Japan is a technological power and can play a key role in transforming rising Asian powers like India. Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe is determined to lead Japan back to its glory. Prime Minister Abe, along with Indian Prime Minister Narandra Modi, and US President Donald Trump, represent two of the

world’s oldest, largest, and most responsible democracies.

Together, they represent 25 per cent of world’s population, 35 per cent of global gross domestic product and will play a critical role in the preservation of democracy and peace in Asia in days to come. The Indo-Japan relation is among the strongest relationships shared by two Asian nations that need to be advanced to the next level.

(The writer is an expert on Learning and Development and organizational Leadership Development, based in Ahmedabad)

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