Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

PM Modi’s Japan Visit: Bringing a new vigour & substance in a truly Global Strategic Partnership

By Siddharth Singh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently concluded the third annual summit meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to discuss the future of a broad-based and action-oriented partnership between India and Japan. This is a great time for India and Japan to bond, with the personal rapport between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Modi giving the India and Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership a new vigour and substance.

In last two and half years under Modi regime in India, country has moved on the path of more integration into the global economy, reforms to unify the country into a single market through a Goods and Service Tax, measures to expedite clearances, cut red tape and liberalise foreign investment norms in critical sectorsof the economy like defence, railways, insurance and construction, as well as proactive external engagement, key to powering a calibrated engagement between India and Japan. Whereas in Japan also, a stimulus package for economic revival signals that Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s economic revitalisation plan is working. In a nutshell, India and Japan are poised well to advance the special strategic global partnership befitting a new era for the relations between the two countries. Both countries are responding to these dynamics. Indeed, economic relations between India and Japan have vast potential for growth, given the obvious complementarities that exist between the two Asian economies, including India’s huge and growing market and its resources, especially human resources.

The bilateral trade between India and Japan has increased from about USD four billion in 1999-2000 to USD 14.52 billion during 2015-16. Besides, cumulative FDI inflows between April 2000 and March 2016 have grown to USD 20.96 billion. Clearly, there is a lot of space for India and Japan to boost business linkages.

Deeper engagement in Defence would benefit both India and Japan as both countries have identified Defence as an important area of strategic cooperation. The India and Japan agreements on Defence Exchange and Technology Cooperation along with a government nod for up to 100 per cent FDI in India’s Defence sector open up great opportunities for industry to collaborate in research, development and production of aircraft and equipment.

Continuing the success of collaborating on high-speed rail links, India and Japan could look at cooperationon a second high-speedrail project, which Japan is keen tofund. The Indian Railways hasidentified at least five other corridors—Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai,Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur for running 300 kmph or higher speed trains, which add up to a win-win scenario for India and Japan

India and Japan have signed a landmark civil nuclear cooperation deal after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Shinzo Abe, a move that will boost bilateral economic and security ties. This agreement will enhance cooperation in the energy sector. This is a win-win scenario as this agreement will help pave the way for Japan to export nuclear technology to India. With Japanese companies in possession of key elements such as safety components and the construction of domes of nuclear powerplants, such an accord with Japanis crucial for India’s energy needs. The deal would allow Japan to export nuclear technology to India, making it the first non-NPT signatory to have such a deal with Tokyo. It would also cement the bilateral economic and security ties as the two countries warm up to counter an assertive China. There was political resistance in Japan – the only country to suffer atomic bombings during World War II – against a nuclear deal with India, particularly after the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. Japan is a major player in the nuclear energy market and an atomic deal with it will make it easier for US-based nuclear plant makers during his interaction with Japanese PM, Modi also pitched for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of disaster management and risk reduction.

Some of the important sectors in which MoU have been signed between India and Japan during PM Modi’s recent Japan visit are as follows:

  1. SKILL DEVELOPMENT:Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship of India, Government of India and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, Government of Japan on the Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Program. MOC envisages training 30,000 Indian youth in the Japanese styled manufacturing in the next 10 years.
  2. ISRO AND JAXA: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ISRO and JAXA concerning Cooperation in the Field of Outer Space. The MOU also provides for establishing JWG and sign Implementing Arrangements to carry out specific cooperative projects.
  1. AGRICULTURE: Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan in the Field of Agriculture and Food Related Industry. It aims to deepen the bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture and food industries that includes food value chain networking and protecting Geographical Indication (GI) of agriculture products.
  1. URBAN DEVELOPMENT: MoU between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development. It would enable cooperation between the two organizations promoting investment in infrastructure projects in railways and transportation; port terminals; toll roads; airport terminals; urban development; logistics; and any supporting industries for these sectors.
  1. TEXTILES: MoU between Textiles Committee, Ministry of Textiles, GoI and Japan Textiles Products Quality and Technology Centre (QTEC) in theField of Textiles. It aims to improve quality of Indian Textiles for conformity assessment for Japanese market.
  1. DISASTER MANAGEMENT: MOU between the State Government of Gujarat and Hyogo Prefectural Government, Japan. The present MOU seeks to promote mutualcooperation between Gujarat and Hyogo in the fields of academics, business, cultural cooperation, disaster management and environmental protection.

In conclusion, While PM Modi has demonstrated India’s resolve to refuel the India’s development story by way of facilitating Japanese businesses and investments, there is renewed confidence among the Japan Inc who are well-versed with PM Modi as a result-oriented leader. Both countries stand to gain from their Global strategic partnership.

(Siddharth Singh is a Research Scholar in School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)