It is a well known fact that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have shared special chemistry with each other since a long time which dates back to the time when Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Both India and Japan have come a long way in forging a special relation with each other ever since Modi became Prime Minister three years ago. But in last one year or so we have witnessed a quantum leap in relations between India and Japan for which both Modi and Abe are equally responsible.
Truly speaking, India and Japan have enjoyed good equations since a long time. This stands vindicated by the irrefutable fact that Japan directly provided all help to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in not just raising and nurturing Indian National Army and in providing all support for attacking British India and the battles at Burma, Imphal and Kohima are too well known to merit description! Even after independence the good equations continued between both the countries. But the real icing on the cake came when Mr Yoshiro Mori who was the then Prime Minister of Japan and Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was the then Prime Minister of India agreed firmly and fully during the landmark Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to India in August 2000 to establish the “Global Partnership in the 21st Century”. From here there was no looking back!
Disaster Risk Management
1. Memorandum of Cooperation between the Home Ministry and the Cabinet Office of Japan. Cooperation and collaboration in the field of disaster risk reduction and to share the experiences, knowledge and policies on disaster prevention.
2. Further strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of Japanese language education in India between Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Japan.
3. India Japan Act East Forum signed to enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in the North Eastern Region of India.
Economic & Commercial
4. Aims to send fresh food from Japan to India in cool boxes for Japanese in India.
5. India-Japan Investment Promotion Roadmap between DIPP and METI to facilitate and accelerate the Japanese investments in India.
6. Agreement between METI and Gujarat Government to cooperate in infrastructure development on ‘Japan-India special programme for Make in India’ in Mandal Bechraj-Khoraj in Gujarat .
Civil Aviation: Open Skies
7. Exchange of record of decisions (RoD) on Civil Aviation Cooperation (Open Sky). Indian and Japanese carriers can now fly unlimited number of flights to the select cities of each other’s countries.
Science & Technology
8. Deal for International Joint Exchange Programme signed between interdisciplinary theoretical and mathematical sciences programme (ITHEMS), RIKEN and National Centres for Biological Sciences (Simons-NCBS) to establish a Joint Exchange Programme to identify and foster talented young scientists from both India and Japan to collaborate in the field of theoretical biology.
9. Joint Research Contract between National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology (AIST), Japan and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) to conduct joint research and to establish an International Center named as “DBT-AIST International Center for Translational & Environmental Research (DAICENTER)” at AIST, Japan.
10. MoU b etween DBT and National Institute of Advanced Science & Technology (AIST). To promote research collaboration between DBT Research Institutes and AIST in the field of life sciences and biotechnology.
11. International Academic and Sports Exchange between Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE) and Nippon Sports Science University, Japan (NSSU). To facilitate and deepen international education cooperation and exchanges between the sports bodies.
12. International Academic and Sports Exchange between Sports Authority of India and Nippon Sports Science University, Japan.
13. Letter of intent between Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE) and University of Tsukuba, Japan.
14. Letter of intent between Sports Authority of India and University of Tsukuba, Japan.
15. MoU between RIS and IDE-JETRO for promotion of Cooperation in Research Related Activities. To promote institutional cooperation between RIS and IDE-JETRO to strengthen research and effectiveness of dissemination of research findings.
Truth be told, Modi thanked Abe for the “big gift from Japan to India” even as the Japanese PM attributed it to the “special bond” between the two nations. Speaking at the jam packed Sabarmati Railway Stadium, Abe hoped the first bullet train in India would soon make its route to other parts of the country. He also said amid a huge applause that, “The next time I am in India, I wish to ride the Shinkansen with Mr Modi and enjoy the beautiful scenery of India through the windows”.
To put things in perspective, Abe said after the two leaders pressed a button, unveiling a plaque that, “A strong India is in Japan’s interest and a strong Japan is in India’s interest”. There can be no denying it and this alone explains why both India and Japan have agreed to work together and cooperate on multiple fronts. He said the first letters of his country, ‘Ja’, and that of India, ‘I’, together make up the word “Jai” or victory. After starting his speech with “Namaskar” and ending it with a “Dhanyavad” said proudly that, “Jai India, Jai Japan”.
It also must be brought out here that the target for the completion of India’s first bullet train is December 2023, though officials say there are indications that the Government may seek an earlier deadline of 2022. A 21-km-long tunnel will be built between Bolsar and Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, of which seven km will be under the sea. Initially, the train will have 10 coaches with a total seating capacity of 750 passengers. Later, it is proposed to have 16 coaches with a seating capacity of 1250 passengers.
To be sure, Modi made a candid admission that, “The dreams and ambitions of this ‘new India’ are limitless. India has taken a big leap today to fulfil a long-held dream. Fast trains, top technology will bring us top growth, employment and progress.” He also added that, “India has taken a big leap today to fulfil a long-held dream. Fast trains, top technology will bring us top growth, employment and progress.”
While mincing no words in expressing his gratitude to Abe, Modi said that, “Japan too has shown today what a great friend it is to India. India’s first bullet train project is a symbol of this friendship. Abe has ensured this project sticks to time.” He also added further that, “This is not the time to progress at low speed. The speed of this country’s progress now depends on the high-speed connectivity”. Modi also castigated the Opposition for criticising the project without any valid reason. Modi certainly has a valid point here.
It also warms the inner cockles of my heart to learn that in a stern message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in their joint statement strongly pitched for a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach towards terrorism. In the statement signed after their bilateral talks in Gandhinagar in Gujarat on
, the two leaders asked Islamabad to bring to book the perpetrators of terror strikes, including those involved in the Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot (2016) attacks. They also called upon international community to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists. The joint statement said, “They (Modi and Abe) looked forward to convening the fifth Japan-India Consultation on Terrorism and to strengthening cooperation against terrorist threats.”
Needless to say, while making it clear that India and Japan will be intensifying their collaboration in the counterterrorism measure, Modi and Abe in their joint statement underlined the need for all countries to ensure that their territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other nations. They also expressed firm resolve towards strengthening international cooperation to address the challenges of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. It is a no-brainer that to eliminate terrorism all peace loving countries have to come forward and unitedly take collective steps to ensure that this Frankenstein monster is crushed once and for all!
As it turned out, the two PMs also reiterated their desire and determination to work together to maintain and promote peace, stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region. They also both reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in accordance with international laws. The joint statement said that, “They also highlighted the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes, including through full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, and in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
It is of immense significance that a memorandum of understanding to set up India Japan Act East Forum with an aim to align India’s Act East Policy with Japan’s Free and Open Asia-Pacific strategy in the backdrop of China’s One Belt One Road initiative is among the major agreements signed while Abe was in India for the 12thIndo-Japan annual summit. The forum will enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in India’s Northeast region in an efficient and effective manner, according to the MoU signed following the summit in Gandhinagar on . It must be said here that Japan has a historic connection with the Northeast and is among the few countries that India has allowed a presence in the eight landlocked states which are the country’s gateway to the Association of Southeast Asian Nation members.
Let me be direct in saying: India and Japan have both realised that to counter China’s hegemony they have to act in unison. Both countries are not on very good terms with China. Japan has also realized that India can be a good partner in security related matters and an alliance will benefit not just India but also Japan which is not so strong militarily.
It is of high significance to note here that Kono said at a joint press appearance after the signing of the loan deal that, “Japn has contributed to India’s nation building for many decades as a development partner…we will continue to actively support regional development, including by strengthening connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region.” Sushma Swaraj who is India’s External Affairs Minister too while expressing her satisfaction at the loan deal exclaimed that, “A consensus between Japan and India on the economic front is important for the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.” It is beyond a straw of doubt that whatever Sushma Swaraj has said is absolutely right. Both countries are fully committed to work with each other in tandem to ensure peace, progress and prosperity!
There can be no gainsaying the irrefutable and pivotal fact that if both Japan and India exert full pressure on North Korea to make it realize that nuclear weapons will only invite more sanctions from the world and threatening to attack any big power like USA by it would have most destructive consequences for North Korea also which it cannot overlook under any circumstances! Both countries must make North Korea realize that peace with big powers like USA is in its own best interests which it must exploit to the hilt and not fritter away just for preserving false pride which will take it nowhere other than the road to destruction and death for its citizens also! The Japanese officials also revealed that they also agreed to further advance cooperation between Japan and India on maritime security.
It goes without saying that Japan and India have really worked very hard to strengthen their bilateral economic and security ties in recent years which is quite ostensible also amid China’s growing regional influence and its rising assertiveness in the South and East China seas and Indian Ocean. This only serves to further compel both India and Japan to work together more vigorously with an effective and well planned strategy to counter China’s moves on every front as both face a common enemy which is an equal potent threat to both the countries. Both countries fully understand this also which only serves them to come more closer as is apparent also by the moves taken by both the countries in the last few years.
It may be recalled here that the two countries had decided to elevate bilateral ties to a “special strategic and global partnership” in 2014 at a summit in Japan between Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. It is the good fortune of India that once again Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe has won elections and became PM with a fresh mandate which will only serve to further deepen the already strong relations between both the countries. Modi was quick to congratulate Abe who got a resounding victory in the polls held in October 2017 with his LDF-led coalition winning two-thirds majority in the lower house of Parliament.
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.