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Strengthening India and Japan Relationship

India and Japan stress on strengthening all aspects of partnership during their 12th annual bilateral summit at Gandhinagar in Gujarat on September 13 & 14, 2017 commenced with a first ever such a grand 8 km road show of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, in an open-roof vehicle from Airport to Sabarmati Ashram; and the two countries have signed a host of agreements as under:

  • Ahmedabad–Mumbai Bullet Train 508-km, Rs. 1.1 lakh-crore project joint inauguration was the high point and India’s decision to partner with Japan for this project. According to Modi, humanity friendly and eco-friendly, bullet train project will take care of high speed, high growth and high-end technology and will usher in the next generation economic growth along the corridor between the two cities; and that New India has taken an important step towards fulfilling a big dream. The project is to become reality in all likelihood by India’s 75th Independence Day in 2022.
  • India Japan Act East Forum constituted to enhance Connectivity and promote infrastructure and other developmental projects in the North East region of India and countries adjoining the region in an efficient and effective manner, an offer India has also extended to Japan but denied to any other country.
  • Toward a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific”, on cooperation in the region, indicate a much closer alignment between India and Japan in countering China’s influence in the South China Sea, its forays into the Indian Ocean, and investments in South Asia and Africa.
  • On Disaster Risk Management between Home Ministry of India and the Cabinet Office of Japan that aims to cooperate and collaborate in disaster risk reduction and to share experiences, knowledge and policies on disaster prevention.
  • In the field of Skills Development, to strengthen cooperation in Japanese language education in India.
  • To accelerate and facilitate Japanese Investments in India between the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
  • For Make in India in the Mandal Bechraj-Khoraj region between METI of Japan and Gujarat on cooperation in infrastructure development.
  • In Civil Aviation that envisages Indian and Japanese carriers mounting unlimited number of flights to the select cities of each other’s countries.
  • In Academics to strengthen the capacity of Research and effectiveness of dissemination of research findings between India’s Research and Information System (RIS) think-tank and Japan’s Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO).
  • In Science & Technology agreements:
  • To indentify and foster talented young scientist from both the countries to collaborate in theoretical Biology exchange programme between inter-disciplinary theoretical and mathematical sciences (ITHEMS), RIKEN and National Centres for Biological Sciences (Simons-NCBS).
  • To conduct joint research and establish an international centre named as ‘DBT-AIST International Centre for Translational & Environmental Research (DAICENTER)’ at National Institute of Advanced Industrial Sciences & Technology (AIST), Japan; and Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • To promote research collaboration between DBT Research Institutes and AIST in the field of Life Science and Biotechnology.
  • To further cooperation in Science & Technology, including research into Stem-Cells for making bone-marrow transplants more accessible. Japanese scientist Shinya Yamahanka was a co-recipient of Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering ways to reprogram mature stem cells. Through this programme, Indian scientists will be part of a global network that shares research into and knowledge of these aspects of stem cell technology.
  • In Sports:
    • To facilitate and deepen international education cooperation and exchanges between Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education and Nippon Sports Science University.
    • To strengthen strategic collaboration, joint research programme and exchanges between Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education and University of Tsukuba.
    • To strengthen strategic collaboration, joint research programme and exchanges between Sports Authority of India and University of Tsukuba.
  • Cool EMS’ service through which fresh food can be sent from Japan to India in cool boxes for Japanese expatriates in India between India Post and Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also dwelt on international issues and had consensus on ways of ensuring peace in the Indo-Pacific region. Both the countries agreed to Japanese concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests and also sought accountability of all who helped the hermit kingdom in acquiring the capabilities.

In the joint statement, both nations have expressed a ‘zero tolerance’ resolve against terrorism that referenced China’s veto on the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief being put on the list of UN-designated terrorists also. Both agreed to enhance cooperation to tackle terror groups such as Al Qaeda and Pak-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. They also called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists. The two Prime Ministers also called for Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorist attacks including those of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai and the 2016 terrorist attack in Pathankot.

The Japanese PM also referred to the Malabar trilateral naval exercise saying the India-Japan-US cooperation will be strengthened further. India and Japan are boosting ties at a time when China has become more active in the Indo-Pacific region. Both the leaders also focussed on maritime security during their talks. Economic cooperation was also stressed apart from defence and strategic relations.

PM Modi said that Japan is India’s third largest investor which is a big marker in terms of economic ties. Prime Minister Abe said Japanese companies have limitless scope in India. However, while Japan is India’s largest donor and the third largest provider of FDI, bilateral trade has steadily declined since 2013, and is down to $13.61 billion in 2016-17 from $14.51 billion the year before. The contrast with India-China trade, at $71 billion a year, and Japan-China trade, at $279 billion, is stark.

The bilateral talks in Gujarat have clearly established the India-Japan ties are not confined to the bilateral or regional sphere but cover the global ambit and have the potential to change the world for the better at a rapid bullet train pace.

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