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70 Years Of India-Japan Relationship: History, Economic ,Defence & Trade Developments

On the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the ties between the two countries have deepened in every sphere, be it strategic, economic or people-to-people contacts.

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Its Background:

  • Formal relations between Japan and India began in 1952.
  • After the Second World War, instead of signing the multilateral San Francisco Peace Treaty, India opted for concluding a bilateral peace treaty with Japan, considering that honour and equality should be ensured for Japan to rejoin the international community. This is the cornerstone of our long-standing friendship.
  • But even before the establishment of diplomatic relations, the goodwill between the people of the two countries was deeply rooted through business, academic and cultural exchanges.
  • In 1951, when India hosted the first Asian Games in New Delhi, it invited Japanese athletes. This was one of the first occasions where the Japanese flag was hoisted after WWII. This experience soothed the minds of Japanese people who were struggling to rebuild their country.
  • After 70 years of multi-layered exchanges, the relationship between our two countries grew into a “Special Strategic and Global Partnership”.

Relations between the two countries:

Historical:

    • The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilization ties dating back to the visit of Indian monk Bodhisena in 752 AD. 
    • In contemporary times, among prominent Indians  associated with Japan were Swami Vivekananda, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore,  JRD Tata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Judge Radha Binod Pal.

Strategic Components:

  • Convergence on free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific,
  • Progress in defense and security and in the regional context.
  • India and Japan signed a Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services Agreement (RPSS).
  • The inaugural 2+2 ministerial meeting was held in November 2019.
  • Act East Forum: A decision was taken in the 2017 Summit to establish the India-Japan Act East Forum. The objective is to coordinate developmental projects in North-East India in areas of connectivity, forest management, disaster risk reduction and capacity building.
  • Several projects including upgradation of highways in Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram are underway. The PM had last year laid the foundation stone of a 20 km-long bridge over the Brahmaputra River between Assam and Meghalaya.
  • Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) – The Trade and Economy Ministers of India, Japan and Australia launched the (SCRI) on 27 April 2021. The initiative seeks to enhance the resilience of supply chains in the Indo-Pacific Region and to develop dependable sources of supply and to attract investment. As initial projects (i) sharing of best practices on supply chain resilience; and (ii) holding of a matching event have been completed.

Economic and Commercial relations:

  • Economic relations between India and Japan have vast potential for growth, given  the complementarities that exist between the two Asian economies.
  •  Japan’s  interest in India is increasing due to a variety of reasons including India’s large  and growing market and its resources, especially the human resources.
  • The India Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) came into  force in August 2011.
    • It  is the most comprehensive of all such agreements concluded  by India and covers not only trade in goods but also Services, Movement of  Natural Persons, Investments, Intellectual Property Rights, Custom Procedures  and other trade related issues.
  • Japan has been extending bilateral loan and grant assistance to India since 1958,  and is the largest bilateral donor for India
  • The bilateral trade between India and Japan for FY 2019-20 (April – December) totalled US$ 11.87 billion.

Japan’s Investments: 

  • India and Japan signed four agreements under which Tokyo is to support health care projects funded under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects (GGP) scheme in India.
    • The “Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects (GGP)” supports development projects designed to meet the diverse basic human needs of the people in developing countries.
  • Japan has invested ?1,600 crores in development projects across India’s northeastern states and is also working closely with India on infrastructure projects in third countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • India and Japan also signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) last September for reciprocal provision of supplies and services between their defence forces.
  • Recently, both nations laid out a roadmap for deepening our Special Strategic and Global Partnership in a post-COVID world.
  • In the recent visit, the Japanese PM had announced an investment target of $42 billion (Rs 3,20,000 crore) in India over the next five years as the two sides concluded a raft of agreements and collaborations to further expand their partnership.

Defence:

  • India-Japan Defence and Security partnership has evolved over the years and forms an integral pillar of the bilateral ties.
  • Our exchanges have strengthened due to growing convergence on strategic matters and its significance is growing from the common outlook on issues of peace, security and stability of the Indo-Pacific Region.
  • During Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Japan in October 2008, two leaders issued “the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between Japan and India”.
  • There are also various frameworks of security and defence dialogue between Japan and India including the “2+2” meeting, annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue and Coast Guard-to-Coast Guard dialogue.
  • India and Japan defence forces organise a series of bilateral exercises namely, JIMEX, SHINYUU Maitri, and Dharma Guardian. Both countries also participate in the Malabar exercise with the USA.

Emerging Quad alliance:

    • Both India and Japan have been expanding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region bilaterally as well as under the framework of the Quad grouping.
      • Quad is an informal strategic dialogue between India, the USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.

Enormous possibilities that exists:

  • Plethora of fields to cooperate in, security issues including cyber security, outer space and economic security.
  • Our economic relations can be further augmented: For long, Japan has been the largest ODA (Official Development Assistance) donor to India. One of the most recent and ongoing examples of our collaboration is the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project. Japan is also one of the largest investors in India. Both countries have also promoted economic cooperation in other countries to enhance social infrastructure and connectivity. Our economic partnership can further strengthen the economy of the Indo-Pacific, as well as the world economy.
  • Cultural exchanges including literature, movies, music, sports and academics are essential for our relations, enabling a better understanding.

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