TOKYO: Despite Beijing’s fulminations, India and Japan on Wednesday lifted their strategic convergence to a new level by vowing to work together for ensuring stability in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of growing muscle-flexing by China.
As Japan pledged financial assistance for big-ticket projects like the Chennai-Bangalore industrial corridor and third line of Mumbai Metro and displayed willingness for early conclusion of India’s effort for civil nuclear cooperation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe spoke of a partnership of the two democracies against use of force to change the order in Asia: diplomatic shorthand for Chinese attempt to arm-twist Japan and other nations into making territorial concessions.
The two sides agreed to institutionalize joint exercises by their navies and to increase their frequency even as Japan offered its highly advanced sea plane Shinmaywa or US-2 in what is the first instance of Tokyo’s willingness to offer a technology that has both military and civilian applications. A very sophisticated craft, the amphibian plane has a very long range and can land and take off in choppy waters.
India’s department of atomic energy and Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry signed a memorandum for cooperation on the development of rare earths industry in India, a significant element of the expanding cooperation considering Japanese dependence on China for critical raw materials.
The new momentum in ties was evident from the statements of both the prime ministers which stood out against the backdrop of the advice of People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, that Japan should deal with China in a calm way and not be swayed by “internal and international provocateurs”.
In a toughly-worded opinion piece, the daily lashed out at Japanese politicians, calling them “petty burglars” on China-related issues. Surprisingly, the Chinese daily said India and China were able to resolve their standoff over the incursion of People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh swiftly, saying, “In the development of Sino-Indian ties, there are several divergence (sic) and contradictions. Some countries see these differences as an opportunity to provoke dissension.”
Saying that the maritime democracies were obligated to safeguard oceans, Abe said, “India from the west, Japan from the east, the confluence of the two most deep-rooted democracies is already one important part of international common good for the 21st century. I am of a belief that it is important that Japan and India should ensure that Asia remains in peace and prosperity.”
In fact, Tonohika Tanaguchi, counsellor in the cabinet secretariat and member of Abe’s strategic communication team, said the relationship could grow into an ever-lasting alliance, although he added that the deepening of Indo-Japan partnership was not aimed at any other country. He also spoke about China seeking to grab Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.
Tanaguchi emphasized that the emperor and empress of Japan had agreed to visit India by the year-end despite their ripe age, and mentioned that their decision to host the prime minister and Gursharan Kaur was an extraordinary gesture, considering that Singh was not the head of state.
The Indian side was not dismayed by Japan refraining from agreeing to a civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement. Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai noted that the joint statement emphasized India’s excellent non-proliferation record: significant in view of Japan’s sensitivities, the only country against which nuclear weapons have been used.
Sources said the delay was because of “domestic consultations” and some movement could be expected after elections to the Japanese Upper House got over in the third week of July.
India also committed support to Japan’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Full article: India, Japan join hands to break China’s ‘string of pearls’ (The Economic Times)