Maintaining maritime order from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean is a common interest of both Japan and India. In the pursuit of this strategic objective, the bilateral partnership should be strengthened.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited India and held talks with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. The two leaders announced a joint statement reaffirming the importance of “freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded commerce” based on international laws.
It marked the 10th bilateral meeting held by the two leaders. Based on their relationship of trust, concrete cooperation should be pursued.
At a press conference, Abe emphasized that he is “determined to work together with Prime Minister Modi to take the lead toward peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.”
In the joint statement, the two leaders pledged to boost their efforts to align the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” which Abe advocates, and the “Act East Policy,” which emphasizes stronger ties in Asia, advocated by Modi.
In order to develop regions from Southeast Asia to India and Africa, it is important for policies of both countries to bring about synergistic effects.The two countries’ partnerships with nations in Southeast Asia are also essential.
Under the “One Belt, One Road” initiative to create a huge economic zone, China is injecting a sizable amount of funds in the development of ports in such countries as Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Chinese military vessels and submarines have also been actively operating in waters near the Indian Ocean.
Boost economic relations, too
India is turning its back on China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, probably because India has a strong sense of wariness over China’s hegemonic motives.
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, the U.S. Navy and the Indian Navy held a joint drill in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean in July. To hold China’s self-serving activities in check, methodically expanding maritime security cooperation between Japan, the United States and India is effective.
During the meeting, Abe and Modi agreed to persuade the international community to maximize the pressure of their economic sanctions and other punitive measures on North Korea, which has recently pushed ahead with a nuclear test.
he international efforts to contain North Korea should be steadily expanded.
As for economic fields, an agreement was reached that Japan will provide a total sum of about ¥190 billion in yen loans for India’s first high-speed railway, which is using Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train system, and other infrastructure projects. On the basis of the Japan-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which came into force in July, both countries will also accelerate bilateral negotiations for the export of Japan’s nuclear power plant technology to India.
India, a country with a vast land area, has a population of 1.3 billion now but is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation in the near future. There is huge demand for infrastructure and energy. Deepening economic cooperation between the two countries will bring about reciprocal benefits.
The two leaders also agreed to establish Japanese language courses at 100 higher educational institutions in India to train 1,000 Japanese language teachers over the next five years. Such endeavors will be useful for developing a mutual understanding between communities in both countries on a grassroots level, and help Japanese companies enter the Indian market. Such efforts should serve as preparations for developing the long-term relationship between Japan and India.