Japan and India have expanded their footprint in the Indo-Pacific region during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit, something that China is likely to take strong note of.
Abe and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has kept Japan at the “heart of India’s look east policy”, deepened the strategic ties between the two countries, focusing on economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia, and have widened the scope for defence relations. Abe, who spoke of the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Ocean on his visit to India in 2007 during his first term as Prime Minister, came this time with his nationalist credentials matched only by his keenness to regain the economic supremacy Japan has recently conceded China.
“A strong India and a strong Japan can come together and I think we can do wonders,” Abe said.
Experts in strategic affairs see this trip as a significant political development that also sends a message to China on its hegemonic ambitions in the region.
“Forging ties with Japan and nurturing them to new heights are the biggest foreign policy achievement of UPA-II, which has been faced with many frustrations on the diplomatic front,” former foreign secretary Lalitman Singh said.
“This visit also sends the right message to China that its hegemonic ambition in the Indo-Pacific region is rightly challenged.”
Uday Bhaskar said: “This visit is a significant political development and with a message (to China) that Asia cannot be unipolar.”
Ties between the two countries embrace several things: energy ties, high-technology transfer, a civil nuclear deal, a pact for the joint production and sale of US-2 amphibian aircraft, more joint military exercises and joining hands with the US to expand maritime cooperation.