https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/20 ... 9UpNa5KiM8Third Modi visit to Tokyo reflects deepening of Japan-India ties
BY SAMRAT CHOUDHURY, OCT 26, 2018
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Tokyo on Sunday for a summit meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe. This is Modi’s third visit to Japan as India’s leader. Abe, for his part, visited India in 2014, 2015 and 2017 as part of a growing engagement between the two countries. Among the visible outcomes of the increasing cooperation between the two countries is a small start to collaboration in defense. Next month, for the first time ever, the Indian Army and the Ground Self-Defense Force will conduct a joint exercise, taking part in drills in Vairangte, northeast India.
There are natural congruencies that have brought the two countries closer, but aspirations of continuing growth in ties will have to overcome two kinds of obstacles sooner or later. First, there are the devils in the details, such as the issue of land acquisition that has held up the $17 billion bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in India. Second, there is the gorilla in the room, which I will come to later.
India’s northeast has of late been the focus of a lot of attention from Japan. This part of the country is relatively underdeveloped and surrounded by foreign countries. In fact, only 2 percent of its land mass borders with the rest of India. The remaining 98 percent borders the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. This is where India’s “Act East” policy meets Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.” During Abe’s visit to India last year, the two countries established the joint India-Japan Act East Forum to explore the possibilities of Japanese infrastructure development in the region. Japan is also extending Overseas Development Assistance to projects in the region, with commitments of tens of billions of yen for the development of roads alone.
Getting things to work on the ground, however, will be complicated by the internal dynamics of the provinces and the politics of the broader neighborhood. First, there is a long history of powerful insurgencies against the state in both northeast India and the northern parts of Myanmar that border it. Many of these places were historically non-state spaces. While several of the insurgencies have wound down for the present, it is not certain that some new form of violent unrest will not flare up again, for instance, over issues of migration and citizenship.
In part, this is because of a key external factor that led to the taming of the insurgencies in India’s northeast: the election of Sheikh Hasina in neighboring Bangladesh. Most of the insurgent leaders had bases in that country and ran training camps there. Hasina, who is considered friendly toward India, unlike her rival Khaleda Zia who is considered close to India’s regional rival Pakistan, put an end to that. However, Hasina is increasingly unpopular in her country, which is due for elections by January.
Apart from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the fourth country directly or indirectly involved in northeast India and its neighborhood is China, which has a territorial dispute with India over the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh. This territory of 83,740 square kilometers is currently part of India but claimed in its entirety by China, which says it is Southern Tibet. India and China fought a war in 1962 over their differing territorial claims, and relations between the two rising Asian giants remain testy. Last year, the armies of the two countries came face to face at the trijunction of India, China and Bhutan in a place called Doklam over differing perceptions of where the border lies.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________https://thediplomat.com/2018/10/one-mor ... an-summit/One More Tryst for Modi and Abe: What to Expect During the Latest India-Japan Summit
India and Japan continue their strategic convergence.
By Harsh V. Pant, October 28, 2018
Tectonic plates of global geopolitics are shifting rapidly and both India and Japan are trying to cope up. Abe was in China this week for a landmark visit, the first by a Japanese Prime Minister in seven years. The two nations signed a number of agreements, including reviving a currency-swap deal dropped in 2013 and more than 500 business pacts even as they called for an early conclusion to a trade pact involving 16 Asian countries. The foreign policy of the Trump administration is playing a big role in this recalibration by the two Asian nations as Japan is concerned about the potential U.S. withdrawal from the region and China is grappling with the consequences of an escalating trade war with the United States. India too has tried to reach out to China in recent months with Modi’s informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan.
The strength of Indo-Japan ties today can gauged by the fact that neither New Delhi nor Tokyo are concerned about these recent moves. Indo-Japanese relationship has evolved to a point that the long term convergence between the two is taken as a given. As Japan’s ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu has suggested “a strong India is in Japan’s best interest and for that, we must provide even more support.”
It is rare to have a strategic convergence of this order between any two nations and Modi and Abe have built on this convergence by using their personal equation. As the Indo-Pacific strategic landscape undergoes a churn, it is incumbent on the two nations to keep working together as the two primary democratic actors in the region. Apart from shaping the regional balance of power, they will have to do their bit for shaping the normative and institutional architecture of the region. That’s a responsibility that will increasingly come to these two powers and they should not be found wanting.