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Day 87 – Q 5.Japan has not only been a trusted partner in India’s journey towards economic strength but has also emerged as a critical strategic ally. Do you agree? Critically examine,

5. Japan has not only been a trusted partner in India’s journey towards economic strength but has also emerged as a critical strategic ally. Do you agree? Critically examine,  

जापान केवल आर्थिक मजबूती की दिशा में भारत की यात्रा में एक विश्वसनीय भागीदार रहा है, बल्कि एक महत्वपूर्ण रणनीतिक सहयोगी के रूप में भी उभरा है। क्या आप सहमत हैं? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें,


“We see Japan as a natural partner in our journey of becoming a major centre of manufacturing, investments & knowledge industries” – Indian prime minister.

India and Japan relation has been time tested and are major partners of development as well as defence in the Asian/indo-pacific region.


Japan as a trusted partner for economic development:

  • Key source of FDI: Japan is the third-largest source of FDI ($28.160 billion between 2000 and June 2018) investment into India after Mauritius and Singapore.
  • Japan has been extending bilateral loan and grant assistance to India though Official development assistance. 
  • Investment in the industrial projects like
    • Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (1,483 km high-speed rail and road line) which will see the setting up of new cities, industrial parks, ports and airports.
    • Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train service and has already released the first tranche of 5,500 crore rupees.
    • Delhi Metro Project has also been realized with Japanese assistance.
  • India and Japan have already signed CEPA and is working to improve trade aspects through regional connectivity projects as well as multilateral trade agreements like RCEP.
  • Even historically, transformational development in the economic history of India was Suzuki Motor Corporation’s path breaking investment in India in the early 1980s that revolutionized the automobile sector, bringing in advanced technology and management ethics to India
  • Japan support in Indian schemes like Digital India, start up India and so on E.g. India-Japan Digital Partnership, Joint Start-up hub.
  • Cooperation in skill development: with tie ups with National skill development corporation and skill development courses launched.

Japan as a key strategic ally:

  • Military and Naval exercises: like Shinyu Maitri, Dharma guardian and Malabar.
  • Quad group: along with USA and Australia to have deliberations on peaceful development of Indi-pacific region and counter the rising aggressive China.
  • 2+2 dialogue: between external and defence ministers to further deepen bilateral security and defense cooperation.
  • India and Japan always have a convergence of interest in Indo-pacific region -supported freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters and opposed Chinese aggression in South China sea.
  • Negotiations are in place to increase the trade in defence equipment from Japan E.g. Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft for surveillance purpose in the Indian Ocean
  • Japan and India signed Nuclear deal recently and this is the first time Japan has signed a nuclear deal with a nuclear power country showing its trust in India.

Concerns in Japan-India relations:

Though, Japan has been a key ally in the Asian region over the time, there are certain concerns which have strained the relations between the two. Some of them are

  • Japan-China trade is around $300 billion compared to $15 billion between India and Japan. Thus, in economic sense Japan’s interest lies more with Chinese than India.
  • Japan’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) are major barriers to Indian exports of poultry, meat, shrimps and fruits like mangoes and grapes
  • Though a strategic partner, Japan has offered neither military hardware nor technology to India which has immense potential.
  • Japan has changed its stance towards Belt and road initiative causing a cause of concern for India.
  • The Nuclear power status of India is seen with apprehension by Japan which is the main reason for limited relation in defence and energy sector. Japan had blacklisted Indian firms, stopped ODA after nuclear tests in 1998. Even in the latest signed Civil nuclear deal, there is an escape clause for cancellation of the deal.
  • Focused on countering China: Both countries have border and hegemonic issues with China. So, their policy stance hinges generally on China, rather than growing comprehensively.


With 21st century being the Asian century and China being aggressively assertive, Japan will be a key for India to maintain the balance in the region. The development of the Indo pacific is tied to the development of both the countries and they have to strengthen their ties in maritime security, defence deals, Indo-pacific trade and finally use the soft power including people – people connect to realize the dream of Asian century.

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