India and Japan Relations

CONTEXT: During the recent visit PM Kishida said that today’s Ukraine could be tomorrow’s Asia,” and indicated Japan’s concerns over China’s actions in the Senkaku Islands, South China Sea and Taiwan Straits. 

The issue of “shared responsibilities” on the rule of law between India and Japan was discussed by the two leaders during bilateral talks.

The Japanese Prime Minister went on to launch Japan’s New Plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).

The Japanese PM also highlighted the need for common perspective for international order.

The two leaders acknowledged that 2023 is a pivotal year for both India and Japan as chairs of the two major international groupings – India as the President of the G20 and Japan as the Chair of G7. Our countries have the unique opportunity of converging our priorities on issues of significance and drive through that and in the process, the global agenda. 

The two leaders spoke about the challenge that they face in the region (China) and also globally.

The two leaders further highlighted that  i.e. India and Japan and other like-minded countries can work together to address those challenges.

About India and Japan

India and Japan celebrated 70 years of friendship in 2022. Reflecting on how this relationship has developed from a Global partnership to a “special strategic and global partnership”. 

However we can see gaps in economic partnership and people-to-people connect. While the economic partnership was the pillar on which this relationship took shape, the two leaders will unquestionably direct the policymakers of both nations to scrutinize and reflect on how to enhance this pillar.

Moreover, much-touted civilizational linkages have not translated into robust people-to-people connections. 

The two leaders are hence putting forth various schemes to enable exchanges of people, namely youth, workforce, and artists, along with a stronger emphasis on tourism.


  1. The two leaders exchanged documents on the financing of the 4th tranche of Japanese funding for a loan of 300 billion Yen for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) or “Bullet Train” project. 
  2. A MoU on Japanese language education for the MEA. 
  3. Japan further plans to mobilise a total of U.S. $75 billion in public and private funds by 2030. Japanese leader also mentioned about coordinating with India for projects as a part of a “Bay of Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain”.
  4. The two leaders also had discussions over co-innovation, co-design, co-creation in defence field and also investment collaboration, investment partnership in this space. Indian PM highlighted the openness of Indian defence sector to Japanese private companies and Japanese FDI.
  5. Ministry of Environment of Japan and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India, signed an Aide Memoire essentially on the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) that has been under discussion for quite some time between the two countries.
  6. The two leaders announced 2023 as “India-Japan Year of Tourism”. Indian PM expressed the desire to declare the next year as the year of youth exchanges between the two countries.

Founding Pillars of India – Japan Relations

Strategic Collaboration between India and Japan 

  • Convergence on free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. 
  • Defence and security and in the region. – Quad, AUKUS, MALABAR. 
  • India and Japan signed a Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services Agreement (RPSS). 
  • The inaugural 2+2 ministerial meeting was held in November 2019. 
  • Act East Forum: A decision was taken in the 2017 Summit to establish the India-Japan Act East Forum. The objective is to coordinate developmental projects in North-East India in areas of connectivity, forest management, disaster risk reduction and capacity building. 
  • Northeast development – Upgradation of highways in Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram are underway. 20 km-long bridge over the Brahmaputra River between Assam and Meghalaya. 
  • Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) – The Trade and Economy Ministers of India, Japan and Australia launched the (SCRI) on 27 April 2021. 

Economic Collaboration 

  • Investment Promotion Partnership 2014: Both have achieved the target of 3.5 trillion Japanese Yen in public and private investments in India. 
  • Industrial collaboration: 1,455 Japanese companies in India. Eleven Japan Industrial Townships (JIT). 
  • FDI: Japan is 5th largest source of FDI, largest supplier of ODA. 
  • Infrastructure projects are underway through Japanese assistance including Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail, Dedicated Freight Corridor, metro projects, DMIC etc. 
  • Digital Partnership 2018 Indian start-ups have raised more than USD 10 billion from Japanese VCs. India and Japan have also launched a private sector driven fund-of-funds to invest in technology start-ups in India which has raised USD 100 million. 
  • Cooperation in ICT, in areas such as 5G, under-sea cables, telecom and network security. 
  • Movement of skilled workers: Japan’s population has peaked out its and working age population is reducing. In this respect, India with its surplus labour force can provide workers for Japan’s needs. India and Japan signed MoU on Specified Skilled Workers to promote movement of skilled workers and Japanese language requirement from India to Japan for employment on a contractual basis. `

Three main challenges which have constrained the Japan-India economic partnership:

  • India’s complex regulations, red tape, ad hoc nature of state-level interventions.
  • Japanese companies face considerable logistics challenges and non-availability of uninterrupted power supply constrains their manufacturing plans in India.
  • While India can emerge as a large market for Japanese infrastructure system exports (one of the core components of Abenomics), there have been incredible delays in the commencement of the projects. While there is the shining example of the Delhi Metro Rail, the delays with DMIC, CBIC are disappointing.

Collaboration in the Indo – Pacific 

  • Collaboration in QUAD, SRI, MALABR Naval exercise with US and other like-minded countries in the Indo–Pacific. 
  • Countering the Chinese assertion – Along the LAC, South China Sea and East China Sea. 
  • Japan’s Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)’ Strategy and India’s ‘Act East’ Policy converge in action in the northeast of India—a bridge between South and Southeast Asia. Ex – Act EAST Forum. 
  • Collaboration through infrastructure development in third countries (in the Indo- Pacific) such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh. 
  • Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)—a collaborative effort to soft-balance China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. 

Collaboration on Global Issues 

  • Both believe in upholding freedom of navigation and reinforcing rules-based international order. 
  • Japan supported a waiver of Nuclear Suppliers Group’s (NSG) embargo on nuclear trade with India and backed its application for membership of group. 
  • Joint military exercises have contributed to the image of their rising regional power. JIMEX, MALABAR etc. 
  • Both works closely on global issues such as proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), terrorism, space and cyber security, and environment (e.g., the International Solar Alliance). 
  • Permanent membership of the UNSC – Both are members of G4 club besides Brazil and Germany. 

Differences between two countries

  • Neither of the two countries want to downgrade its own relations with China and neither is too eager to open alliance against China
  • Though two main political parties have positive disposition towards Japan their lies have shown negative attitude towards Japan due to its proximity with USA.
  • Japanese foreign policy is pre-eminence of Japanese career bureaucrats in foreign ministry that makes radical changes In policy difficult to accomplish
  • Weak political leadership and vertically divided administration as well as fragmented domestic consensus will continue to adversely affect Japan’s foreign policy
  • The trade and security bureaucratic establishment continue to have a rather negative opinion of India
  • Integration b/w Indian and Japanese economies remains shallow, in services sector both the countries have different demands from each other for opening up. For Japan these are maritime ,insurance, civil aviation and banking while for India these include IT , BIO TECH and Medical
  • Infrastructure inadequacy, a complicated legal and taxation system and insufficient regulation for interstate-transaction 


Thus there is a need to enhance the relationship between the two countries in order that India-Japan relations are elevated to a new dimension.

As the Ex Japanese PM  SHINZO ABE talked about a ‘broader Asia’ wherein he talked about advancing Japan’s national interest by strengthening its ties with India and in the next decade Japan-India relations to overtake Japan-US and Japan-China ties.

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