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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Explained: 5 reasons why Japanese PM Fumio Kishida’s India visit is important

The two countries have achieved the target of 3.5 trillion Japanese Yen in public and private investments in India. According to Japanese media outlet Nikkei Asia, Kishida is likely to announce a plan to invest 5 trillion yen ($42 billion) in India over five years.

Written by Shubhajit Roy , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 20, 2022 7:13:45 am
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida poses for a photograph before leaving for India. (Photo: Twitter/@kishida230)

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in India on Saturday for his first visit to the country as the head of government. He will meet PM Narendra Modi for bilateral talks on Saturday evening, and leave Delhi on Sunday morning.

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In an exclusive piece for The Indian Express, published on Saturday, Kishida wrote, “Today, I am visiting India, making my first bilateral visit since my appointment as Prime Minister. Linked by universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, which have been shared through a long history of exchange, Japan and India are “Special Strategic and Global Partners,” which share strategic interests. In this milestone year, marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India, I am dearly looking forward to this visit, the first by a serving Prime Minister of Japan in four and a half years, and to be able to feel for myself the tremendous dynamism of India.”

Here are five reasons why Kishida’s India visit is important.

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1. Though new to the job, PM Kishida is an experienced leader

Kishida, a native of Hiroshima, was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Japan on October 4, 2021. He has been an MP from Hiroshima as well.

He was Japan’s Foreign Minister earlier. He has met PM Modi in that capacity four times. He also met the PM as Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council’s Chairman. He also visited India when he was the foreign minister.

2. The context of the visit

This is Kishida’s first visit to India as the Prime Minister.  It is also his first bilateral visit (he visited Glasgow for CoP26). This is also the first incoming visit at the level of Head of government/Head of State level to India this year.

The Summit between the Indian and Japanese PMs is taking place three and a half years after the last Summit in Japan in 2018.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of India-Japan diplomatic relations (28 April 1952).

Prime Minister Modi had spoken to PM Kishida on phone in October 2021 soon after the latter assumed office. Both sides expressed a desire to further strengthen Special Strategic and Global Partnership. Given the evolving geo-political and economic situation, both sides are looking to deepen their partnership.

3. The strategic reasons for the Japanese PM’s visit are important

    • There will be talks on convergence on free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,
    • Talks on progress in defence and security and in regional context.
    • 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.
    • Several projects including upgradation of highways in Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram are underway. The PM had last year laid the foundation stone of a 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. The initiative seeks to enhance the resilience of supply chains in the Indo-Pacific Region and to develop dependable sources of supply and to attract investment. As initial projects (i) sharing of best practices on supply chain resilience; and (ii) holding of a matching event have been completed.

4. The economic component of ties with Japan

Since PM Modi’s visit to Japan in 2014, tremendous progress has been made on implementation of several important decisions which have been taken by the PMs.

The two countries have achieved the target of 3.5 trillion Japanese Yen in public and private investments in India which was announced by PM Modi and former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in 2014 (Investment Promotion Partnership).

      • Today, there are 1,455 Japanese companies in India. Eleven Japan Industrial Townships (JIT) have been established, with Neemrana in Rajasthan and Sri City in Andhra Pradesh having the maximum number of companies.
      • Japan is the 5th largest source of FDI; largest supplier of ODA (development partner of India)
      • Several infrastructure projects are underway through Japanese assistance including Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail, Dedicated Freight Corridor, metro projects, DMIC etc
      • Last year, PM Modi inaugurated the Varanasi Convention Centre (Rudraksh), while the then PM Yoshihide Suga sent a video message.
      • The two sides had signed a Digital Partnership in October 2018. Collaboration in startups has emerged as a vibrant aspect under this Partnership. Till date Indian startups 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 startups in India which has raised USD 100 million so far.
      • Both countries also have cooperation in the field of ICT, in areas such as 5G, under-sea cables, telecom and network security. A workshop on 5G was also held.
      • Progress has also been made in the area of skill development. The total number of Japan-India Institutes of Manufacturing (JIM) now stands at 19 (it was 8 in 2018). These institutes are established by Japanese companies based in India for training skilled workers. Japanese companies have also set up 7 Japanese Endowed Courses (JEC) at various colleges.
      • 220 Indian youth are placed in Japan as interns under Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP). Last year India had also signed a Specified Skilled Workers Agreement. The Japanese side has since January this year started examinations for nursing care under this programme.

5. Things to look forward to during Kishida’s visit

According to Japanese media outlet Nikkei Asia, Kishida is likely to announce a plan to invest 5 trillion yen ($42 billion) in India over five years.

Kishida and Modi are also expected to agree to convene a two-plus-two meeting between the two countries’ Foreign and Defence ministers at the earliest.

Kishida is also likely to agree to an approximately 300-billion-yen loan.

Besides, an energy cooperation document concerning carbon reduction is expected to be signed.

The Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Japanese PM would pay a two-day visit to India beginning Saturday for the 14th India-Japan summit.

India and Japan have multifaceted cooperation within the ambit of their ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’, he said. The situation in Ukraine is also likely to figure during the talks.

“The summit will provide an opportunity for both sides to review and strengthen the bilateral cooperation in diverse areas as well as exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest so as to advance their partnership for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” Bagchi said.

In his piece for The Indian Express, Kishida also said, “Today, the international community faces a situation that is undermining the very foundation of the global order. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of international law as well as an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force, and it is totally unacceptable. Upholding the core principles of the international order is indispensable from the perspective of diplomacy and security in the Indo-Pacific, where the situation has been rapidly worsening. Japan will unite with the international community and take resolute actions. In the recent Japan-Australia-India-US (Quad) Leaders’ Video Conference, in which Prime Minister Modi and I participated, we concurred that any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force, such as this time, must not be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific region, and that it is precisely because of this situation that it is critical to further promote efforts toward the realisation of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”.”

The India-Japan summit could not be held in 2020 as well as in 2021 primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Japan is set to hold an in-person summit of Quad leaders this year and Modi is expected to attend it.

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