Tomohiko Taniguchi, Special Advisor to the Cabinet of Japan PM Shinzo Abe, talks to Shubhajit Roy about Modi’s visit
How would you describe Modi’s visit?
Exceptional. Modi is the first PM to have been granted a stay at Kyoto Guest House. Abe made an unprecedented gesture of going out of Tokyo to receive him in Kyoto, and acted as Modi’s tour guide. Abe acted as the master of the tea ceremony to welcome him. No Japanese PM has shown such exceptional hospitality.
What were the key symbolic messages?
No visiting political leader from India has ever visited an all-women’s college. Only Rabindranath Tagore did so, but he was not a political leader. This will improve India’s and Modi’s public image, as he visited a college which is Christian, and all-women.
What do you think of the China factor?
The elephant in the room you mentioned is a relatively small matter… India and Japan feel that next year — in 2015, on the 70th anniversary of the United Nations — it is high time for the two sides to gather their intellectual and diplomatic capital to push for UNSC reforms. So, India and Japan are natural partners, with or without a third country.
The civil nuclear cooperation deal hasn’t been inked It has not come as a surprise to me. The important thing is both sides have pledged, and it is their responsibility to tell their respective government officials to push…the agreement. Japan is cautious about transferring technology to countries, and six Indian companies are going to be out of Japan’s foreign end-users’ list. That is a positive development.
What about Japanese investments in India?
Many Japanese dropped their jaw when they heard Abe’s announcement to invest 3.5 trillion Yen in India within five years. The amount of money Japan has given to any country has not exceeded 1 trillion Yen, so you can imagine the scale.
On defence cooperation, what is the status on the US-2 planes?
Japan supplies defence equipment to countries which are democratic and important to Japan… these are the US, the UK, France and Australia. There is a good indication from Japan and India that they want to make it happen. It indicates things are on the right track.
How would you compare Modi to Manmohan Singh?
Singh was an accomplished leader. Without his intellectual guidance, India would not have come far. Modi is also an accomplished leader, but only at a regional level. He is an aspirational leader. To fulfil his aspirations, he has chosen Japan as a partner. He wants to put India at a level, so he needs Japan.