2012 marked the completion of 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations. It also saw the first bilateral exercises between the Indian Navy and Japanese defence forces as well as working-level dialogue on maritime issues and cyber-security talks. The Japanese commitment of nearly 133 billion yen (US$1.7 billion) for Official Development Assistance projects like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project – an impressive infrastructure project spanning almost 1500km, to connect the national capital with the country’s financial capital was also witnessed through the year (Tuke, 2012).
In April 2012, Minister of Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba visited India for the Sixth Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue and the First Ministerial-Level Economic Dialogue. Further avenues for developing the Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership were discussed, along with regional issues in the countries of Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan which were deliberated upon as well. Improvement of the business environment, energy cooperation issues and expansion of bilateral trade concerns were some of the areas of discussion (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2012). July 2012 witnessed the meeting of Mr. Koichiro Gemba, and H.E. Mr. S. M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of India, who visited Japan to attend the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan. Maritime security issues along with discussions relating to cyber security concerns were addressed along with bilateral trade volumes being increased through the Japan-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement were talked about.
The then Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihiko Noda, in his first visit to India after taking office in September 2011, met the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh in November 2012. In this meeting, the two Prime Ministers agreed to strengthen their cooperation in areas of political affairs and security, economy, as well as people-to-people connections and academic exchanges. In the economic area, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Agreement between Japan and India on Social Security and the memorandum between the authorities of the two countries on cooperation in the rare earth industry in India. On civil nuclear cooperation, Dr. Singh expressed hope for sharing the Japanese nuclear technology and experience, including nuclear safety. Concerning the East Asia Summit, Prime Minister Noda mentioned that it was important to further promote regional growth by connecting ASEAN and India more closely. In response, the Indian Prime Minister expressed gratitude for Japan’s efforts to make India a closer country to East Asia (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2012).
Sharing common challenges and views, the two countries could be seeing further cooperation amongst multifarious areas in the coming years.The strong and sustainable growth of India during the last decade has opened up the prospect for genuine economic partnership as well as for more Japanese investments in India. One of the main contributing factors to the question of peace and security in the Asian region is the phenomenal growth of China. For both India and Japan, China is a challenge as well as an opportunity. China’s claim over the South China Sea makes the security environment in the East Asian region fragile. Despite tensions between India and China, and Japan and China, Indo-Japanese bilateral relations have flourished (Sagar, 2012). In fact, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister (as of December, 2012), Shinzo Abe, has begun official visits to the 10 ASEAN nations, for exploring further areas of cooperation between Japan and South East Asian nations such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Considering the immense importance of security issues, especially on the Indo-Japanese front, Association of Asia Scholars in collaboration with The Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament organized a seminar at Jawaharlal Nehru University on “Evolving Security Landscape in Asia: Japanese and Indian Perspectives”. Sino-Japan relations in the current geo-political landscape with China’s rise and the US seeing slow development post 2007-08 were given deper thought to, during the course of the seminar. There was immense focus on how Indo-Japanese relations, in the security arena, will experience changes with the rise of the Chinese economy.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, (2012), “Japan-India Summit Meeting (Overview)”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. (accessed on 11 January, 2012)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, (2012), “Visit to India by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Koichiro Gemba (Overview)”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. (Accessed on 11 January, 2012)
- Sagar, B., (2012), “Indo-Japan Relations: Growth and Future Challenges”, International Policy Digest. (accessed on 11 January, 2013).
- Tuke, V., (2012), “What Abe’s return means for India-Japan ties”, The Diplomat. (accessed on 11 January, 2012)