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Read: Major Deliverables out of Japanese PM visit to India
India seems to get bolder in its foreign policy discourse in recent times. The manifestation of the same was seen during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visit to India as chief guest on Republic day.
India took an unambiguous position for the first time on the recent Chinese policy of declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which has been stiffly opposed and defied by powers including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.
This is a bold foreign policy move by the Indians, especially when China had clarified shortly after its introduction of the ADIZ dispensation that India was out of its ambit. It shows that New Delhi has finally mustered enough gall and courage to side with Japan at the expense of China on the ADIZ controversy.
In a sense, this is India’s way of squaring up with the Chinese for the discriminatory Chinese policy of issuing stapled visas for Indians domiciled in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. By the stapled visas policy, the Chinese had taken sides with Pakistan at the expense of India.
Another major deliverable has been that both countries are moving beyond the assistance in infrastructure projects to a strategic push in the political aspects of the bilateral relationship with security and strategic overtones.
This is clear by the decision of the two prime ministers – Abe and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh – to have an institutionalized mechanism of regular consultations between the two sides’ national security advisors.
Abe has been a vocal supporter of India’s increased presence in the Pacific – another red rag for China. In this context, India and Japan decided to put a deeper emphasis on military-to-military exchanges and joint exercises and prepared an ambitious roadmap in this regard. Under this Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will hold the bilateral exercise in Pacific Ocean in 2014.
Three key loans to India were covered during the visit among others. The first was signing of the Exchange of Notes for yen loan totalling 11.390 billion yen for the "Uttarakhand Forest Resource Management Project” which would help reconstruction efforts in the wake of devastating floods that hit Uttarakhand in June last year.
The second line of support of 1.495 billion yen for the Project for Improvement of the Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children, And the third line of support was for the "Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project (Phase 3 (II)) for 148.887 billion yen,
The talks were also a work in progress on two other recent high points in the India-Japan narrative: Japan’s sale of US2 amphibian aircraft to India and a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. This is for the first time that Japan has agreed to sell an equipment of potential military use to a foreign country. The planes would be unarmed, so as not to break Tokyo's self-imposed prohibition on military exports.
On the issue of nuclear deal, the two prime ministers realized to exert further efforts towards an early conclusion of the nuclear deal. These are tricky and complicated negotiations and will take months, possibly years, for signing the nuclear deal.
Tokyo is already India's fourth-largest investor, involved in building the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, a $90-billion project linking India's capital with financial hub Mumbai.
India’s relations with Japan have begun to take the flavor of India’s relations with Russia and the US where the two sides are cooperating on virtually everything under the sun – defense, energy, nuclear, trade, investment, science and technology, infrastructure, health, people-to-people contacts, railways, cyber security and tourism, apart from political and strategic issues.
Indo-Japan relations have gone from strength to strength in recent years. In fact, Japan is the only country in India’s foreign policy outreach in the past one decade with which India’s relations have constantly been on an upswing. Now its time for the deliverables to take the relationship forward.