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Building long-term trust between India and Japan

Both prime ministers welcomed collaborative projects to enhance security in the form of the new ministerial 2+2 dialogue

analysis Updated: Nov 05, 2018 19:50 IST
Indo-Pacific
Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, left, and Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, during a joint news conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, October 29(Bloomberg)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third official visit to Japan started at a lakeside hotel near Mount Fuji, surrounded by tinted autumnal leaves. Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent an entire day together, having strategic discussions at a lunch with restricted members, visiting the FANUC robot factory and joining a ride on the express train to Tokyo.

Modi became the first foreign leader to be invited to PM Abe’s private holiday home, where the two leaders enjoyed a cosy one-on-one dinner beside a fireplace. The next day in Tokyo, Modi tirelessly met senior political and business leaders, followed by official events at Prime Minister Abe’s residence.

I can say with confidence that the visit was the best ever, both in terms of substance and enhancement of mutual trust between the leaders. The strategic discussions, which the two leaders have held at every annual summit over maps of the Indo-Pacific region, reached a new depth.

The outcome of the visit was so extensive that we ended up releasing a 7,400-word fact sheet on 12 areas, in addition to the Japan-India Vision Statement and 24 MoUs/ MOCs. The success of the visit cannot be measured by the length of documents or the number of MoUs, but there were genuinely transformational agreements and announcements.

The phrase which comes to my mind when talking about the substance of this year’s summit is “Shared Security, Shared Prosperity and Shared Destiny”.

As mentioned in the vision statement, Japan and India have made enormous progress in fostering joint efforts towards “shared security”. This year, we have come to demonstrate that the security and defence cooperation are rapidly catching up with the already robust economic partnership. The highly symbolic achievement was the agreement to institute the foreign and defence ministerial “2+2” Dialogue. It will oversee and give political guidance to our security cooperation towards achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The two leaders welcomed the commencement of the formal negotiations to conclude the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). The ACSA will provide a framework concerning the reciprocal provision of supplies and services, and enhance joint exercises and other cooperation between all three services.

The Implementing Arrangement for deeper naval cooperation was signed. It will enhance maritime security and domain awareness cooperation, establishing the means and framework for information sharing and other maritime engagements, including the exchange of shipping information. The new momentum was added to our economic partnership by the announcement of the largest ever currency swap arrangement, various connectivity projects and new partnerships in wide-ranging socio-economic sectors.

The Bilateral Swap Arrangement (BSA) of $ 75 billion was agreed with a view to enhancing financial and economic cooperation between the two countries. A BSA of $ 75 billion is the largest ever for Japan.

Regarding the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project, the two leaders reviewed with satisfaction the progress made on this landmark project, including the signing of the Exchange of Notes for a 150 billion yen loan. Japan remains committed to this project, which will change the landscape and induce economic transformation in India.

The list of outcomes in the economic field goes on to encompass digital partnership, healthcare, food processing, International Solar Alliance and so forth.

The convergence of our strategic vision and objectives was further deepened, based on the conviction expressed by both leaders: “Strong India is in Japan’s interest; strong Japan is in India’s interest.” The destinies of the two countries are intertwined and our cooperation holds the key to the future of the entire Indo-Pacific region.

Based on their shared Indo-Pacific vision, the two leaders reiterated unwavering commitment to working together towards a free and open Indo-Pacific, with special emphasis on Asean’s centrality.
As concrete actions based on their shared vision and principles of quality infrastructure, the two leaders welcomed the collaborative projects to enhance strategic connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region, including in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Africa, as well as India’s North Eastern Region. The concrete projects are highlighted in the fact sheet.

Based on this robust outcome of another historic visit by Prime Minister Modi to Japan and the unshakeable trust between the two leaders, I look forward to working with Indian friends to consolidate the India-Japan partnership as the cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Kenji Hiramatsu is Japan’s ambassador to India

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Nov 05, 2018 19:26 IST