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INTERNATIONAL > South & Central Asia

Indian PM’s visit to Japan timed to keep China’s expansionism in check

  • October 30, 2018
  • , Sankei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation
  • ,

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 12th summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came right after his first official visit to China in seven years. This was not a coincidence.

 

Scheduling this visit despite his very tight diplomatic schedule is meant to demonstrate to the international community Japan’s strong bonds with India, with which it shares such universal values as freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, in order to keep China’s expansionism in check.

 

Abe has a very strong relationship of trust with Modi. When he visited India in September 2017, Modi invited him to his hometown in the state of Gujarat, where he was accorded warm hospitality. He was really moved, so he decided to invite Modi to his private villa in Narusawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, this time. Modi is the first foreign leader ever to be invited to the villa. They also sat side-by-side in the limited express train “Kaiji” on their way back to Tokyo.

 

A senior government official said: “The two prime ministers have been visiting each other and they spread out maps and chat about the situation in other countries when they are together on domestic flights or traveling on trains. It is very meaningful to talk with Modi, who adopts a global perspective.”

 

At their official summit meeting at the Kantei on Oct. 29, Abe emphasized the “strategy for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” which he refrained from discussing on his China trip. The two leaders further deepened bilateral defense cooperation by agreeing to sign at an early date an Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) for the Self-Defense Forces and the Indian armed forces to share food supplies and fuel.

 

The agreement to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure projects in northeast India is also of great significance because China and India are in conflict in the border area in this region.

 

Although Abe decided to resume the currency swap with China and promote bilateral economic cooperation in third countries during his visit to China, this was not a “strategic rapprochement between Japan and China,” but simply normalizing the bilateral relationship and reverting to being “friendly nations.”

 

Like Australia and other countries, India is becoming a quasi-ally of Japan in forming an encirclement of China. It appears that Abe wanted to demonstrate this to the international community.

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