International Relation between India and Japan

International Relation India and Japan

International Relation between India and Japan

India–Japan relations have traditionally been strong, the people of India and Japan have engaged in cultural exchanges, primarily as a result of Buddhism, which spread indirectly from India to Japan, via China and Korea. The people of India and Japan are guided by common cultural traditions including the heritage of Buddhism, and share commitment to the ideals of democracy, tolerance, pluralism and open society.

Japan and India view each other as partners in peace, with a common interest and complementary responsibility for promoting security, stability and prosperity in Asia region. They have responsibility for , and are capable of, responding to global and regional challenges in keeping with their global partnership. A strong, prosperous and dynamic India is, therefore, in the interest of Japan and vice versa. At the beginning of the 21st century, Japan and India resolved to take their bilateral relationship to a qualitatively new level.

This relationship, which was embarked upon in 6th century A.D. when Bhuddhism was introduced in Japan, but the direct exchange in modern times commenced only in Maiji era (1868-1912), when Japan set off the process of modernization. Japanese support and assistance to Netaji and INA continue to persist in popular imagination.

Although diplomatic relations between two countries were established in 1952, it was only in August 2000 when Japanese PM Yoshiro Mori and his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpeyi set in motion ‘Global partnership in 21st century’.

Commonalities such as shared democratic values, commitment to human rights, pluralism, open society and rule of law are foundation blocks of this global partnership.



During World War II, around 67,000 Indian soldiers were captured by the Japanese when Singapore surrendered in 1942. Subhas Chandra Bose, who led the Azad Hind, a nationalist movement which aimed to end the British raj through military means, used Japanese sponsorship to form the Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army (INA), composed mainly of former prisoners of war from the British Indian Army captured by the Japanese. The Japanese Government built, supported and controlled the Indian National Army and the Indian Independence League. Japanese forces included INA units in many battles, most notably at the U Go Offensive at Manipur. The offensive culminated in Battles of Imphal and Kohima where the Japanese forces and the INA lost against the combined British and Indian forces, in 1944-45.

India refused to attend the San Francisco Peace Conference in 1951 due to its concerns over limitations imposed upon Japanese sovereignty and national independence. After the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty, Japan and India signed a peace treaty, which was one of the first treaties Japan signed after World War II.

Diplomatic, trade, economic, and technical relations between India and Japan were well established. India’s iron ore helped Japan’s recovery from World War II devastation, Japan started providing yen loans to India in 1958, as the first yen loan aid extended by Japanese government.

Relations between the two nations were constrained, however, by Cold War politics. Japan, as a result of World War II reconstruction, was a U.S. ally, whereas India pursued a non-aligned foreign policy, often leaning towards the Soviet Union.

Since the 1980s, however, efforts were made to strengthen bilateral ties. India’s ‘Look East’ policy posited Japan as a key partner. Since 1986, Japan has become India’s largest aid donor. Relations reached a brief low in 1998 due to Pokhran-II nuclear weapons test. Relations improved exponentially following this period, as bilateral ties between the two nations improved once again, to the point where the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe was to be the chief guest at India’s 2014 Republic Day parade.


Strategic cooperation

Increment in china’s military expenditure was almost one and half times bigger in 2014 than defense outlay in 2010. This expansion is a cause of concern for both countries, since both countries are engaged in negotiation with China over Arunachal Pradesh (India) and Shenkaku Island (Japan).

New Delhi and Tokyo are apt to hedge against USA’s possible failure in containing china’s growing assertiveness in the region in the backdrop of this era of power transition. Increasing bilateral defence partnership against fear of American retrenchment, economic engagement against an over-dependence on china and multilateral hedge against China’s rising influence in international and regional institutions.


Defence Cooperation

In 2009, 2+2 dialogue (foreign and defence ministerial) were initiated. India has always supported freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters in sync with UNCLOS vis-à-vis South China Sea dispute and East China Sea issue.

India invited Japanese navy to participate in annual Malabar exercise in 2014 with USA in pacific waters, reviving an earlier practice of joint India-USA-Japan trilateral exercise.

Negotiations on possible trade in defence equipments from Japan, as per Tokyo deceleration, are in the pipeline. Collaborative projects in defence equipment and technology is under consideration. Tokyo has lifted ban on six Indian firms involved in defence R&D blacklisted after 1998 nuclear test, commencing towards transfer of Japanese military technology.

Japan has revised Article 9 of its Constitution to allow Japan’s self-defence forces to act more like a conventional army. The clause forbids Japan from using force to settle international disputes and restricts its land, air and naval forces to a strictly defensive role. Japan has scrapped the article to reform its pacifist, post-WW-II constitution to develop its military for collective self defence.

Balance of military power and ever accentuating territorial and recourse nationalism in Asia has paved intensification of strategic cooperation between India and Japan.


Economic cooperation

In 2015, trade from India to Japan stood at $6 billion and trade from Japan to India at $10 billion. Direct investment from Japan to India reached $3 billion. The comprehensive trade pact between India and Japan aims to double bilateral trade nearly to $25 billion. In 2015, trade from India to Japan stood at $6 billion and trade from Japan to India at $10 billion. Direct investment from Japan to India reached $3 billion. The comprehensive trade pact between India and Japan aims to double bilateral trade nearly to $25 billion.

Japan is looking to boost trade and investment ties with India. India offers a large domestic market base. Besides, mutual synergies between businesses in the two countries are driving initiatives.

Complementarities between the two countries, Japan’s ageing population (23% above 65 years) and India’s youthful dynamism (over 50% below 25 years).

Japan is a relatively labour scarce, capital abundant country that complements India’s rich spectrum of human capital.India’s abundance of raw materials and minerals matches well with Japan’s capabilities in technology and capital to produce knowledge-intensive manufactured goods.

India’s large domestic market has been the main factor for investments by Japanese companies. Japanese small and medium enterprises have begun to discover India as the new growth market.

India Japan CEPA

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Japan came into force in August 2011.Despite this agreement India-Japan bilateral trade stands at measly USD16 billion as compared to Sino-Indian trade amounting to USD 70 billion and Sino-Japanese trade at whooping amount of USD 343 billion in 2014.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Japan came into force in August 2011.Despite this agreement India-Japan bilateral trade stands at measly USD16 billion as compared to Sino-Indian trade amounting to USD 70 billion and Sino-Japanese trade at whooping amount of USD 343 billion in 2014 .The agreement had two major concerns, namely: the infrastructure in India, and non-tariff barriers in Japan.

On the infrastructure front, US $90-billion Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. The project agreement appears highly promising in the environment of the new manufacturing policy whereby India is targeting to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25 percent within a decade, potentially creating 100 million jobs.

Japan had invested in dedicated freight corridor west project, strategic port facility in Chennai, development of strategic assets including highways and dams in North East Region where India’s immediate neighbor is eyeing for territorial expansion.

The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor with eight new industrial townships, The Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) India’s primary exports to Japan have been petroleum products, chemicals, elements, compounds, non-metallic mineral ware, fish & fish preparations, metalliferous ores & scrap, clothing & accessories, iron & steel products, textile yarn, fabrics and machinery etc.

Japan will create a $12bn-facility to support Japanese companies investing in India to further our Make in India objective.

As part of the broader Japanese support for Indian infrastructure, memorandum of cooperation on the high speed Shinkansen rail system between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to be financed with a highly concessional yen loan has been signed.

Chemistry Between both PMs – Japanese PM Abe and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi represent the best chance for establishing an enduring entente. The two are ideological soulmates, belong to the 1950s generation, and regard each other as friends. The Abe-Modi affinity has been fostered both by personal chemistry and hard-nosed calculations about the importance of Indo-Japanese collaboration in their plans to revitalise their countries’ economy and security and restore national pride. History is determined equally, if not more, by the role of personalities, including their personal strengths and foibles and their search for national security and respect.



China’s Aggressiveness

Chinese revisionism is also evident in South China Sea (SCS) where Beijing claims ownership over “Nine Dash Line” which if established by force, would entail that almost all of the SCS will be the exclusive economic zone of China.

Hague Arbitration Tribunal in Phillipines V/S China case in 2016 rejected China’s claim Of Nine Dash Line and the historic rights of Middle Kingdom off the hand. But China does not subscribe to UNCLOS, adding to tensions in the region.

On the Himalayan side, transgressions in Demchok, Ladakh, Chumar and Depsang areas tell a story of territorial hunger of China. India-China’s long Himalayan border dispute resulting from 1962 war.

Indian side has suspicion for huge investment sponsored by china in developing port and deep underwater ports in India’s neighborhood through Maritime Silk Route Project. It resembles China’s earlier policy of “String of Pearls” theory, encircling India through a series of ports in different neighbouring maritime countries.

Development of Kyaukphu port and deep underwater port at Maday island (Arakan coast ) in Myanmar nearby North East region of India and development of Gwadhar port in Pakistan near Western India is supposed to be a part of this grand scheme.



Japan’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) are major barriers to Indian exports of poultry, meat, shrimps and fruits like mangoes and grapes. This issue highlights the need for sharing and facilitating the exchange of technology under the agreement to promote Indian exports to Japan.

Nuclear Conundrum – Issue of civilian nuclear technology cooperation remains a constraint in realizing true potential of this strategic partnership. Japan’s anti-nuclear stance often conflicts with India’s aspiration of to be a nuclear power. Though recently both the country signed agreement on civil nuclear cooperation. This is part of India’s decade-long process of progressive nuclear rehabilitation.


Common Interests

For Japan, India has emerged as an alternative economic partner and important constituent of Asia’s emerging security order.For Japan, India has emerged as an alternative economic partner and important constituent of Asia’s emerging security order.

A transition of power is unfolding in Asian continent and the shape and substance of Indo-Japan relationship is one of its spin-off.

Notwithstanding, strengthening of the Indo-Japan relations is not the only consequence of rise of china and USA’s shifting of regional policy in the form of “Rebalancing of Asia”.

Japanese perception of India has also been molded by the dissenting opinion of Radha Binod Pal- the Indian judge at famous Tokyo trials – who declined to convict Japan’s top military brass as war criminal proving that Japan’s imperial history has been discounted by Indian consciousness.

One of the significant agenda for India and Tokyo is to reform UNSC. Both demand democratization of UNSC and both claim permanent membership in this regard. Post WWII international security architecture with Beijing as only Asian representative in UNSC with veto power ensures that China will continue to enjoy extraordinary leverage in the region. So maintaining a status quo is in favor of China as it does not support claim either by India or by Japan. China’s opposition has further cemented the Indo-Japanese relationship wherein countries declared solidarity for each-other’s positions demanding permanent membership and formed G-4 including Germany and Brazil too.

India was included into East Asia summit membership (ASEAN 3+3) on behest of Japan along with Australia and New Zealand despite protest by China.

India shows its appreciation for current Japanese PM’s initiative to help Bangladesh in developing the region around the Bay Of Bengal though ” Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt” or BIG -B initiative.

Japan’s active involvement in this region offsets china’s growing economic and strategic influence in India’s neighborhood.

Two course shares similar view of establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan and has invested into Afghanistan’s prosperity and development. India and Japan institutionalize trilateral strategic dialogue partnership with USA in 2011.

These trilateral initiative has serious potential to transform into ‘Quad of Democracies’ (including Australia) in the Indo-Pacific region.


Economic front needs to be strengthened to reach “Low Hanging Fruit of Asia” wherein demographic dividend of the India and other Asian countries can be deployed to benefit Asia as whole.Both need to join hand to establish peace and order in not only disturbed region of Asia but of the whole world. India’s Act East policy, of which the India-Japan relationship is a core strand. It is also to strengthen India’s voice in regional debates, whether on economic or security issues, such that India will be in a position to shape emerging economic and security architectures as they form, rather than accommodate to them afterwards. ‘Southeast Asia sees India primarily as a security partner, while India primarily sees Southeast Asia as a trade partner’. The more that India accepts the garb of security partner, the more pivotal its role in Asia and its voice in debates.