At the backdrop of the Doklam crisis, and the Dragon’s growing attitude of domination, Indo-Japan ties are going stronger than ever. From giving a significant boost to India’s development programmes, Japan has been instrumental in outlining plans for the Asia-Africa corridor. Apart from this, strengthening defense cooperation is a major thrust and a core objective of future Indo-Japan ties.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visited Gujarat last week to attend the 12th India Japan Annual Summit held last week and to inaugurate the construction of the Bullet Train in India. This signaled to the world that the two nations are looking forward to setting up a new world order. An uncertain US foreign policy is the main reason for this. A stronger relationship with India is crucial for Japan to hedge against North Korea’s immature threats, Chinese aggression and an unreliable Trump as the US President. The joint statement issued by the two countries specifically mentioned the progress made on Japan selling the US-2 amphibian aircraft to India, the next big milestone between Asia’s number two and number three economies after they signed the landmark civil nuclear deal in 2016.
Defence deals, bullet train, 15 strategic agreements, Abe-Modi bond and the Japanese PM’s visit to Gujarat has attracted major headlines but one point which would invite China ire more than anything would be New Delhi’s daring policy to involve Japan in the North-East’s development programme. Japanese companies are exploring opportunities to help development of the North-East specially to build roads, aid agriculture, grow forestry, improve water supply and enable sewerage in the states here. The Japanese government, has pledged Rs 67.1 billion to improve roads in the region, and is looking at national highways 40 and 55 that provide vital links to Bangladesh and Myanmar, the only Southeast Asian countries that India shares a land boundary with.
Japan’s investments in India have crossed $25 billion en route to a promised $35 billion by 2019.
For India to invite Japan to build infrastructure is a huge political statement. In 2007, China opposed an ADB loan for development works in Arunachal Pradesh describing it as “disputed territory.” It is a kind of tit-for- tat as China can be seen aggressively building infrastructure in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and presently flexing its muscles in Bhutan. The Indo-Japan team for economic projects is ultimately placing pieces together to build a multi-polar Asia, a declared strategic intent of both countries.
Tokyo also hopes India will adopt Japanese technology for other high-speed railway systems in the country. With regard to cultural exchanges, Abe pledged to offer support in opening Japanese language courses at 100 higher education facilities in India and training a total of 1,000 Japanese language teachers over the next five years.