Yesterday, we revisited the forecast on the US. Today, we are looking at India and Japan. Back in January, we predicted that these two countries would deepen their ties to regain a leading position in Asia; so, how well did we do in this forecast?
Indicator D: India & Japan - Asian Power-houses
Earlier this month, PM Abe visited India and, according to reports (e.g. this one), the visit was very successful, having resulted in the signature of two long-sought for deals: a nuclear agreement and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train. Furthermore, India and Japan signed several defence pacts that will have a big impact on both countries' economies.
Prime Minister Modi likes the idea of a India-US-Japan trilateral taking on the world - Jyoti Malhotra
During 2015, it was interesting to see that both India and Japan got closer to the United States (PM Abe was the first Japanese leader to address the US Congress) and Israel (India is increasingly more pro-Israel, ever since PM Modi took office) – as a way to boost their defence and technological advantage, in relation to China (a country that not only supports Pakistan's military ambitions but has also revealed an aggressive behaviour in South China Sea by claiming Japanese territory to itself).
According to Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary, the two countries are about to co-develop and co-produce defence technology. Moreover, the expanding India-Japan defence ties will translate into the following:
- The Japanese participation in the India-US Malabar exercises to "help create stronger capabilities to deal with maritime challenges in the Indo-Pacific region"
- The signature of two defence-related agreements (1- Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology and 2- Security Measures for the Protection of Classified Military Information)
- Cooperation between the two of them as a capital factor to achieve peace, stability and development in the India-Pacific region (indispensable to both nation's national security and prosperity)
- The exchange of intelligence to prevent and counter Terrorism.
The timing of the signature of such agreements is important as it occurred after PM Abe managed to secure the needed alterations in the Japanese Constitution to allow a bigger role in international security. Therefore, when two nationalist leaders strengthen the ties of their respective countries, we need to understand their wish to have a bigger participation in the world's new order.
India and Japan signed partnerships on infrastructure, manufacturing and high technology, that included advanced transportation systems, solar power generation, civil nuclear energy, space, biotechnology and rare earths.
Both sides are seeking a synergy between India's "Act East" policy and Japan's "partnership for quality infrastructure", that could help develop connectivity within India and regionally. - Kanwal Sibal
As another sign of the expanding ties between the two countries, India decided that Japanese visitors will get visas on arrival from March 2016 (making, thus, Japan the first country to benefit from such a measure). Therefore, if China is closely following the developments between these two allies, it has reasons to worry because even though Japan has always been India's significant economic partner, it had never been a strategic one; but now their relationship is evolving in both economic and strategic terms, increasing thus their geopolitical alliance and importance.
Vital Geopolitical Players
In January, we shared Rohan Mukherjee's and Anthony Yakazi's words “Beijing keeps a close eye on evolving India-Japan ties and aims in the long term to prevent an excessively warm embrace between two of its rivals.” but apparently Beijing's efforts have been hampered by PM Abe and PM Modi who are clearly assuming a leading role, especially when we think of the dispute in the South China Sea:
Modi and Abe have called upon all states to avoid unilateral actions in the South China Sea that could lead to tensions in the region. - Kanwal Sibal
Definitely, India and Japan have positioned themselves as regional leaders, challenging China well enough but not so much as to escalate tensions to a warring level.
Have Japan and India deepened their ties? They have, beyond any reasonable doubt. Have they become Asian Power Houses? They have. PM Abe's political successes back home, and PM Modi's understanding the importance of a strong Indian foreign policy, put the two leaders in an auspicious position to reach the proper understandings in order to assume a more active role in the region, and perhaps in the world (in the future).
This is the end of the series: thank you for having read it. May we continue to deliver reliable and quality pieces to you, in 2016.
Happy New Year!
(Image: Heaven's Eternal Land - Asian Bonsai Painting - Frank Ignizio)