India & Japan Strengthening Ties

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Nitin Gokhale via The Diplomat,

It is useful to remember that way back in 2006 U.S. President George Bush and Shinzo Abe, then in his first term as Japanese prime minister, each in their own way achieved far-reaching changes in their respective ties with India. While George Bush helped end the nuclear apartheid against India, Abe unambiguously declared (in 2007) that “a strong India is in the best interest of Japan and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India.”

Since then, after the initial euphoria, India-U.S. ties have plummeted perhaps to their lowest level in the past two decades, not least because of the recent Khobragade affair. The relationship between India and Japan, on the other hand, has found new momentum in the past couple of years. It is no surprise to find that Shinzo Abe is at the helm in Tokyo again.

Abe’s visit to New Delhi as Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day Parade on January 26 will in fact cap a series of high-level visits by Japanese leaders over the past few months. This included the historic visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to India in December 2013. They were returning to the country 53 years after their 1960 trip as the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan. Their symbolic visit apart, the fact is that during the last five years, bilateral trade has increased 80 per cent; currently it is at 18 billion dollars. Although this is nowhere near the India-China bilateral trade figure, which is now inching towards 100 billion dollars, Japan and India have set a goal of $25 billion this year. It must also be remembered that in recent decades, Japan has quietly extended financial and technical support to several  infrastructure projects in India, helping to build metro railway systems and industrial corridors, dedicated freight corridors, highways, bridges and power plants.

Now the two countries are finding new avenues of cooperation. Last week Japan’s Defense Minister Itsonuri Onodera spent four days in India exploring and finalizing various ways to take the fledgling defense cooperation between New Delhi and Tokyo to the next level. Onodera and his Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said at the end of their meeting in New Delhi that India and Japan will “further consolidate and strengthen their strategic and global partnership in the defense arena through measures ranging from regular joint combat exercises and military exchanges to cooperation in anti-piracy, maritime security and counter-terrorism.”

As a first follow up India and Japan will hold their third “2 plus 2″ Dialogue and fourth Defense Policy Dialogue in New Delhi later this year, along with the third bilateral exercise between the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Indian Navy to be held in Japanese waters. Two plus two is a dialogue involving both foreign and defense ministry officials. On January 14, a small exercise involving Coast Guard ships from India and Japan was in fact held in the Arabian Sea.

Joint exercises apart, India and Japan are expanding their defense ties in other ways. For instance, the two sides will also conduct “expert exchanges” in counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief between the Indian Army and Japan Ground Self Defense Force. The possibility of conducting staff talks between Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Indian Air Force as well as professional exchanges of test-pilots, flight safety experts and others is also in the offing.

Unstated in the future road map is the aim to achieve convergence in security matters to counter an increasingly belligerent China bent on asserting itself in long-standing issues with not just India and Japan but with other smaller nations in Asia as well. New Delhi, inherently leery of becoming part of any alliance or bloc, is hoping to create enough synergy with Tokyo and other ASEAN nations to deter China. The rising profile of the Indo-Japanese relationship is certainly an outcome of the collective unease in Asia over what many think is China’s rambunctious behavior.

With tensions exacerbating in the South China Sea and East China Sea, it is natural that all those affected by a rising China would strive to build a “strategic deterrence” against the rapidly expanding PLA Navy. Further efforts to stitch together pan-Asia security architecture to keep China in check may be in the offing given that the U.S. has showed a reluctance to take China on directly, despite its much-discussed pivot or rebalance to Asia. The recent standoff over China’s decision to unilaterally enforce an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, including the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, appeared to show the limits of U.S. intervention.

In fact, Asian nations may be better off finding their own solutions to the regional disputes. Individually they may not be able to stand up to China’s bullying but together there is a chance to keep China in check. India and Japan, along with South Korea, may have to take the lead in this respect. Nothing rattles China more than other nations “ganging up” on it. It is worth recalling what happened during Exercise Malabar, 2007. Normally a bilateral naval exercise between India and U.S., that year, for the first and last time, it also involved the Singaporean, Australian and Japanese navies. Beijing, sensing an anti-China naval platform in the making, promptly issued a demarche to all five participants. Since then, Exercise Malabar has reverted to being a bilateral venture.

Those days of humoring China may now be over, at least judging by the way Abe has been reshaping Japan’s foreign and defense policies in recent months. A new document, prepared by a group of experts that Abe had appointed, has suggested Japan “strengthen its own capabilities and expand its own roles” by bolstering its antimissile defenses and its ability to defend the freedom of navigation in its surrounding seas, a reference to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute with China. As Japan beefs up its defenses against China, both New Delhi and Tokyo seem to have decided to reenergize their relationship to ensure a strategic balance in Asia. India inviting Abe as Chief Guest for the Republic Day Parade – an honor normally reserved for its closest allies – is a clear signal that Asia’s two biggest democracies may be ready to work together in containing if not confronting China in the years to come.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

China wants to intimidate their neighbors?  This is the kind of thing that happens.

At least for now it seems like a beautiful friendship is starting.  And I don't have any problem with India and Japan becoming buddies.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Neither India nor Japan has any domestic oil.  Both consume lots, and in India's case consumption is growing sharply.

When that pie gets limited, those two close buddies will be looking for ways to get oil shipped to the other.

And that will be that.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

You have just painted a wonderful geopolitical (petro-political?) picture...  India, with a growing navy and Japan, with a growing navy could accomplish two goals:

1) keep the oil going their way(s)

2) put in peril China's supplies if they get uppity.


Makes me wonder at what point the shale oil really will wind up costing (longer haul).  There are other countries who have it (inc. China).  I wonder if $6.00 gasoline here in the USA (for example) would curb demand enough as well as encourage other sources of energy and/or more exploration & production.  Nat gas for truck engines (Cummins).

I have been OUT of the oil game for decades (ah, but what a great field to be in when I was young...), so I am not as informed as I should be.  More homework...

Headbanger's picture

Bingo!   Exactly what I've been saying here that China's recent military antics will ultimately alarm India and it could get really ugly after that.

India is also a nuclear power and it can certainly use the help of Japanese high tech manufacturing and even provide the low cost labor for Japan's manufacturers to compete effectively with China.

So the India-Japan alliance may prove to be a very powerful counter force to China both Militarily and commercially.

Martel's picture

2) put in peril China's supplies if they get uppity.

Yes and no. If the situation gets into that, no oil tankers are going to move via the South China Sea. Anti-ship missiles take care of that. Shipyards are the real winner here, because they're going to roll out one aircraft carrier after another.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Japanese love, via their own development bank, is like a kiss of death. Terrible partners they make, speaking from first hand experience....


darteaus's picture

Since Mother Theresa closed her development bank, partnering with any development bank does more for them than it does for you.

BandGap's picture

And yet the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Japan and India make sense. Not great sense, but a workable partnership.

China is NOT a superpower in any sense of the word. And they know they are surrounded.


silvermail's picture

War between China and India - is the main dream of the Fed.
They would like to assist both of them in exchange for their gold.

Ignatius's picture

Very logical given Japan's current China problem.

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

japan earned their due with the rape of nanking. india, as said by people smarter than i, has always been a potential stooge to sick on china to stay the inevitable.

kralizec's picture

This is just a necessary step in the plan to survive the Post-American World.  Makes perfect sense.

Iocosus's picture

Looks like Abe is currying favors from India.

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

ever eat butter chicken with chopsticks?

darteaus's picture

And vice-versa.  Countries don't have friends, they have interests, and mutual interests creates "friends".

dick cheneys ghost's picture

China would not have to be ''contained'' if the west+Japan had not sent all the jobs to her..........

just sayin........

X86BSD's picture

Hindsight is 20/20? At least for all those who were in favor of shipping all those jobs there so they could horde more profits!

dick cheneys ghost's picture

another shining example of American Exceptionalism........we are so rich and exceptional that we could afford to send our manufacturing jobs to 3rd world communist countries......aint fascism great?

nmewn's picture

Pincer Movement bitchez.

Grande Tetons's picture

Or....a modern day Trojan horse that was built in China and full of Indian soldiers. 

Hulk's picture

I believe this particular pincer is going to break hard at the fulcrum point...

overexposed's picture

Dafuk - Is this a Tom Clancy novel coming to life or what?

darteaus's picture

Gee, if a pResident with a Communist background and radical friends hated the US, then...India/US relations deteriorating; Israel/US relations deteriorating; the MB taking over in Egypt; Libya going over to Al Queda; Syria under attack; letting Iran go nuclear; creating an enormous economic bubble; letting illegal aliens in by the millions; bringing in hundreds of thousand of Somalis; letting the economy deteriorate to have record numbers of people: on disability, food stamps, welfare and off payrolls or full time jobs; ignoring Christians being massacred worldwide; IRS targeting political opponents; maximizing the security apparatus of the state; not building the Keystone pipeline; Al Queda resurging,etc. would all be good things.

But, that is impossible...

Possible Impact's picture

I'm possible...  What you said is Plausible.  :)

yrbmegr's picture

Interesting.  Japan, Russia, China, India.  Korea.  Japan, Russia, and India would seem to be increasingly natural allies in the region.  Korea seems unattached.  Must be feeling rather friendless, at the moment.

garypaul's picture

India: democracy my ass

Spungo's picture

They bond by comparing penis sizes.

ebworthen's picture

Well yes, this makes perfect sense, when you realize that India and Japan have China as a common enemy (not to mention Russia).

Britain can't do a damn thing, and the U.S. would let India fry despite all their contributions to the U.S.A. in many ways.

john.smith's picture

"Asia’s two biggest democracies"

Funny enough both could also be its biggest bankruptcy cases soon enough. Fate plays its card in mysterious ways

f16hoser's picture

Hope you took your Potassium Iodide before shaking hands with Radioactive-Abe?

Joenobody12's picture

Two dispicable nations of rapists embracing .

thefirstabomb's picture
They are just teaming up hoping that China doesn't annhilate them both