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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

India and Japan: A continuing relationship

November 9, 2010

MV Kamath
Organiser (India)
November 14, 2010

A Japanese negotiator, Takeshi Matsunaga has been
quoted as saying that the Economic Partnership
Agreement (EPA) provides for " a high level of
liberalisation" of tariff by both sides and
places them on an equal footing. Another Japanese
industrialist, Kenichi Yoshida, a Director of
Soft Bridge Solutions has been quoted as saying
that Indian engineers were becoming the backbone
of Japan’s IT industry and that " it is important
for Japanese industry to work together with India".

THOUGH India had little contact over the
centuries with both China and Japan, it
nevertheless had some high regard for China
because of cultural-mostly Buddhist-association.
During medieval times Chinese scholars like Hsuan
Tsang and Fa Hian had visited Nalanda and had
written glowingly about India’s great centre of
learning and China as a civilization commanded
respect. One can forgive Maoists in their early
years for referring to India as a "running dog of
Anglo-American Imperialism" because that was the
language Maoists were familiar with. It was only
after the 1962 war and the ugly behaviour of
China in subsequent years that India was
compelled to think of Sino-Indian relations in a
new light, and Beijing lost credibility.

Because of its newly gained economic power China
has been behaving exactly, if not worse than what
it attributed to Anglo-American imperialism,
exhibiting a pettiness mixed with arrogance
unbecoming a civilised nation. It has evidently
mistaken India as a soft power that can be
bullied into submission and one is afraid our own
governments have been partly responsible for encouraging that mind-set.

It is time India showed its teeth. In has to
react to Chinese impudence in ample measure.
China’s approach to the Kashmir issue has been
vicious and rude. Beijing refers to
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as "northern part of
Pakistan" while referring to Jammu & Kashmir as
‘India-controlled Kashmir’, clearly indicating
its preferences. The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi
issues visas to Jammu & Kashmir citizens on a
paper stapled to their passports. And, even as
recently as October 25 it has refused to change
its mind. It is unrepentant. What is worse, China
has denied a visa to Lt Gen BS Jaiswal,
GoC-in-Chief, Northern Command, because he has
been serving in Kashmir. That is an insult. India
must reciprocate. It must have second thoughts
over its recognition of Tibet as an integral part
of China, insisting that Tibet’s sovereignty
deserves a second look, considering that earlier
Indian governments may have been misled and India
has reason to think that it had erred in the past.

Incidentally, one understands that Tibet was once
under Kashmir’s suzerainty and the ruler of
Kashmir held the little to Tibetadhiraj. It is
time one digs a little more into our own past.
India, however, has never had any reason to have
a quarrel with Japan, though, following the
nuclear tests India conducted in Pokhran in May
1998, Japan, like some other countries, suspended
all political exchanges with India and even cut
economic assistance to it, for a period of three
years. But that was on a matter of principle and
not because of any gut hatred per se towards India.

Japan even made a turnaround in August 2000,
following a 5-day visit by the then Prime
Minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, to India.
India’s own Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
in turn visited Japan in December 2001 and since
then there has been a continuous exchange of
visits by leaders of the two countries. Japan, it
is important to remember, is currently India’s
third largest source of foreign direct investment
(FDI) and Japanese companies have made cumulative
investments in India of around $ 2.6 billion in
India since 1991. According to the 2007 annual
survey conducted by the Japan Bank for
International Cooperation, India ranks as the
most promising overseas investment destination
for Japanese companies in the long run. Indeed,
in October 2008 Japan even signed an agreement
with India under which it would provide the
latter a low-interest loan worth $ 4.5 billion to
finance a railway project. Japanese corporate
presence has since acquired rising visibility in
India, as is evident from investments by such
firms as Honda, Toyota and Nisan, not to speak of
Suzuki and notable acquisitions as Matsushita
Electric, Daiichi Sankhyo and DoCoMo.

The two-way trade between 2010-2011 is of the
order of $ 20 billion while, in terms of Japanese
overseas development assistance, India is the
largest recipient of all countries, a fact little
known. Expected to be implemented are two
flagship infrastructure projects such as the
Deli-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the
Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), both modelled
on the famed Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka Corridor aimed at
hastening ecomomic development. And yet, things
have been moving slowly. It may be remembered
that Dr Manmohan Singh had paid an official visit
to Japan in 2006 when he and Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe affirmed that India and Japan
are natural partners with a mutual stake in each
other’s progress and prosperity. Prime Minister
Singh again visited Japan in October 2008 when
they signed the ‘Joint Statement Advancement of
the Strategic and Global Partnership between
Japan and India and Joint Statement on Security
Cooperation. The Security Accord is a momentous
one and a significant political achievement,
since Tokyo has such an agreement with only one
other country, Australia. It helps to work
towards building power equilibrium in Asia. India
and Japan have also close military ties and they
have shared interests in maintaining the security
of sea lanes in the Asia Pacific and Indian
Ocean, where Chinese intrusion is deeply
resented. Japan is heavily dependent on energy
supplies from the Middle East and the safety of
sea lanes of communication (SLOC) threatened by
an outside power. One expects Dr Manmohan Singh’s
just concluded visit to Japan to further
strengthen mutual security cooperation.

According to informed sources, the political mood
in Japan towards India presently is remarkably
friendly, considering that a Japan-India
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement has
been finalised. A Japanese negotiator, Takeshi
Matsunaga has been quoted as saying that the
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provides for
"a high level of liberalisation" of tariff by
both sides and places them on an equal footing.
Another Japanese industrialist, Kenichi Yoshida,
a Director of Soft Bridge Solutions has been
quoted as saying that Indian engineers were
becoming the backbone of Japan’s IT industry and
that "it is important for Japanese industry to
work together with India". There is cooperation
already at the security level and there have been
combined exercises on anti-piracy and search and
rescue operations between the two countries’
coast guards. These are all happy signs of
further cooperation in a wide range of fields and
foretells well for the future. That should send a
message to latter-day imperialist powers not to take neighbours for granted.
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