Start GRASP/Japan Japan and India: Deepening Ties in the Age of Uncertainty

Japan and India: Deepening Ties in the Age of Uncertainty


With both countries concerned about U. S. leadership in Asia, a strong partnership looks more and more inevitable.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held his first official summit with U. S. President Donald Trump on February 10-11. Being Japan’s most important ally, it was crucial for Abe to reaffirm bilateral security and trade ties with the United States. In many aspects, the summit was deemed a great diplomatic success for Abe. During their joint press conference , Trump called the U. S.-Japan alliance “the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region” and indicated his administration’s commitment to “the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control.”
While there is little doubt about the ability of the longstanding alliance to ride out a few diplomatic storms, uncertainties about the Trump administration’s foreign policy direction remain. Such uncertainties pose a risk of strategic miscalculation for Japan, underscoring the need for Tokyo to seek a degree of self-reliance and additional stability beyond the alliance. Under such a geopolitical climate, Japan will benefit from improving its relations with other regional players, and it will likely pursue deeper ties with India — a natural partner for Japan.
The 2016 India-Japan summit clearly envisages a greater role for Japan and India in the region. Without the burden of historical baggage or outstanding disputes, and with a shared vision for democracy, Japan and India are natural allies and are ready to expand the scope of their economic, strategic, and defense cooperation.
In fact, Japan is the only country New Delhi has allowed to tread in the politically sensitive region of northeastern India, where Japan is investing in socioeconomic development projects. Tokyo has been providing official development assistance (ODA) loans in the fields of energy, water supply, forestry, and urban development in India’s northeast since 1981. Also, New Delhi has for the first time allowed for foreign investment in the strategically critical Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Modi government is open to collaborating on upgrading civilian infrastructure on the islands with Japan; the first project being discussed is a 15-megawatt diesel power plant on South Andaman Island. The Japanese Embassy in India has confirmed that Japan was eager to use ODA to enhance India’s “connectivity” with countries that are members of ASEAN or the Southeast Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The regional security environment also remains a prominent factor. A joint statement following the 2016 summit outlined a convergence of interests on bilateral issues and regional concerns, including nuclear cooperation, counterterrorism, coordination on regional issues, and defense industry cooperation.

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