Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has turned out to be a true successor of his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, on the foreign policy front.
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His visit to the United States last month has set the agenda for the wider Indo-Pacific engagement of Tokyo and its evolving priorities.
The Japanese premier plans to visit India as soon as possible.
His dealings with the U.S. are a preview of what New Delhi can expect from Tokyo.
Key takeaways from the US-Japan meeting
China factor: Tokyo and Washington stressed on their joint security partnership to address China’s recent activities in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas as well as in the Taiwan Strait.
Both sides affirmed the centrality of their treaty alliance which is a source of stability in East Asia.
They pledged to stand up to China in key regional flashpoints such as the disputed Senkaku Islands and Taiwan.
China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang, its heavy-handed suppression of protests in Hong Kong and military aggression towards Taiwan came in for heavy criticism.
Deterrence against China through cooperation on cybersecurity and space technology:
Given China’s recent pledge to invest a mammoth $1.4 trillion in emerging technologies, Washington and Tokyo scrambled to close the gap by announcing a Competitiveness and Resilience Partnership.
Containing China: Both sides have also signalled their intent to continue the Trump-era policy of pressure on China to reform economic practices such as “violations of intellectual property rights, forced technology transfer, excess capacity issues, and the use of trade distorting industrial subsidies”.
Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Both powers emphasised their vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific that respects the rule of law, freedom of navigation, democratic norms and the use of peaceful means to settle disputes.
Quad: Both parties expressed their continued support for the four-nation grouping of the United States, India, Australia and Japan.
Strategic relations between India and Japan:
New Delhi and Tokyo have expanded high-level ministerial and bureaucratic contacts, conducted joint military exercises and concluded military pacts such as the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) logistics agreement.
New Delhi and Tokyo support a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
The Quad, which is fast emerging as a central pillar of the security strategies of both nations.
Both nations will look to expand cooperation in sectors such as cybersecurity and emerging technologies.
During the Shinzo Abe years, New Delhi and Tokyo put together a digital research and innovation partnership covering AI and 5G to the Internet of Things and space research.
Challenges: India’s insistence on data localisation and continued reluctance to accede to global cybersecurity agreements such as the Budapest Convention.
Japan has invested $34 billion intothe Indian economy over the course of the last two decades
Challenges:Japan is only India’s 12th largest trading partner.
Trade volumes between the two stand at just a fifth of the value of India-China bilateral trade.
New Delhi and Tokyo have collaborated to
build infrastructure in Iran and Africa,
provide vital aid to Myanmar and Sri Lanka and
Devising a common Association of Southeast Asian Nations outreach policy to counter China’s growing influence
Joint infrastructure projects in Africa and Iran have stalled with substantial cost overruns.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: Japan would attempt to get New Delhi to reverse its decision not to join the massive trade compact.
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is the informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
The idea of Quad was first mooted byJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, apparently due to Chinese pressure.
In December 2012, Shinzo Abe again floated the concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” involving Australia, India, Japan and the US to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending "Quad" Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).
The group, which began with an ambitious geostrategic vision 14 years ago, failed to take off initially due to hesitation among the four nations and objections by China.
In December 2012, Shinzo Abe again floated the concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” involving Australia, India, Japan and the USA to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
In November 2017, India, the USA, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending "QUAD" Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).
Since then, QUAD has taken several steps to bolster military and strategic ties with a series of working- and ministerial-level meetings.