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The elephant and the rising sun: Alliance for the future | August 24, 2007

The Elephant and the Rising Sun: Alliance for the Future

Nirav Patel


In 1952, India and Japan established official bilateral relations. As a sign of goodwill, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave Japan an Indian elephant to symbolize India’s respect and desire to better relations with the battered post-World War Two Japan. Despite such gestures, relations between India and Japan have been largely nonexistent and only recently has the desire to strengthen the partnership been rekindled. Now, 55 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, India has sent Japan another elephant. Unfortunately, these gifts are representative of a relationship that has been characterized more by symbolism than substance. [1]

In December 2006, India and Japan articulated a Joint Statement Towards Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership which seeks to increase political, economic, and defense cooperation. This proposal echoes a 2001 joint declaration by then Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Mori for full spectrum cooperation. Despite strong hopes for advancement, the agreements have failed to deliver substantial progress across a range of fields, including economic, diplomatic and military arenas. Therefore, even though the August 2007 Abe-Singh summit’s calls for increased cooperation in almost 40 areas [2], it remains unknown whether this is merely rhetoric or capable of transforming ad hoc agreements into cornerstones of an Indo - Japanese alliance.

This lack of progress is in stark contrast to Prime Minister Abe’s rhetoric that India is part of an Asian “arc of freedom and prosperity” and that “it will not be a surprise if in another 10 years, Japan-India relations overtake Japan-U.S. and Japan-China relations.” [3] If Prime Minister Abe desires a more self-sufficient Japan that is able to better protect its core security interests and maintain economic growth, he must solidify Japan’s strategic relationship with India.

The desire to develop a more robust Indo-Japan alliance has been argued for the last two decades. In 1990, scholars argued that rhetoric for cooperation was robust but actual cooperation was minimal. [4] Some analysts argued that Japan suffers from the “South Asia is another Asia” syndrome which results in India auguring less support from Tokyo. [5] Even though this perspective is quickly dissolving it helps to explain Japan’s reticence to establish an institutionalized alliance with India. However, for India the opportunity to bind itself to Japan has been more apparent. For example, during the immediate aftermath of the Cold War and fall of the Soviet Union, India sought to prevent strategic drift by gravitating towards Japan. [6] India’s decision to orient itself towards Japan has been a work in progress — even though Nehru’s gifts symbolized friendship they planted the seeds for a solid future relationship.

The development of an Indo-Japan alliance that develops institutional linkages between New Delhi and Tokyo is critical to deal with future challenges in the region. This paper attempts to fill a niche in the Indo-Japanese literature by consolidating and analyzing large swaths of media, primary source, and academic insights into one large essay; it is broken down into three major parts. Part one analyzes Indo-Japanese economic relations, part two highlights major energy related partnerships, and part three offers insights into growing defense relations between Tokyo-New Delhi.

Part I: Economic Relations:

Despite Prime Minister Abe’s calls to strengthen economic cooperation, Japan’s exports to India remain suboptimal. [7] In order for Indo-Japanese relations to become more robust both nations must increase bilateral economic cooperation. [8] One of the central tenets of an Indo-Japan strategic partnership will be to build strong and vibrant economic relations. [9]

The Special Economic Partnership Agreement (SEPI) has increased Indo-Japan commercial ties by almost 100% from 2001-2002 to 2005-2006. Despite this progress the overall total remains insufficient compared to other trade relations that Japan and India have with neighboring states. [10] In 2006, notwithstanding significant progress, total trade between Japan and India was 1/28th of Japan’s business with China or $8.6 billion. [11] Moreover, trade in products remains imbalanced. Japan primarily imports raw goods from India (including: iron ore, fish, crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates, and pearls, jewelry and other pre-metal form items) while India mostly imports finished high-technology products (including: nuclear reactors, electronic goods, and automobiles). [12] This also contributes to the growing trade imbalance between India and Japan that periodically causes tension in an other wise healthy relationship.

In his speech at the Indo-Japanese Business Luncheon in Tokyo Prime Minister Manmohan Singh articulated the benefits of the Indo-Japanese relationship but also noted that “In the years ahead we wish to focus on building a much deeper and wider relationship with Japan’s business and industry. Our economic relations presently fall short of the potential.” [13] Factually, Japan’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to India is steadily increasing. Japanese FDI to India during the 2005-2007 period amounts to over $1.8 billion, with the additional potential for another $1.2 billion in investments. A majority of Japanese FDI is concentrated in the Indian petrochemical and automotive industry [14] -with the automotive industry taking the lions’ share of investment at sixty percent. However, despite a positive trend in FDI contributions Japan still lags far behind its capabilities and much lower than China and other Southeast Asian nations. [15] For example, more than 2,000 Japanese firms have plants or offices in Thailand compared to only 475 in India — an embarrassing 4:1 ratio for an expected economic powerhouse. [16] In the same speech PM Singh stated, “China’s trade with India is nearly three times India’s trade with Japan and South Korea’s trade with India is almost equal to Japan’s trade with India.” [17] This contrast highlights India’s perceptions that many of Prime Minister Abe’s goals regarding development of a strategic partnership are platitudes.

Japan and India will both benefit from greater Japanese investments into the Indian market. For example, Sony Corporation is estimating two billion dollars in revenue from India in the next two years, half of which is driven by consumer appetites. [18] Toyota’s Indian subsidiary Toyota Kirloskar Motors will increase production capacity by almost 600,000 units by 2015 which promises to increase Toyota market share by 15% in 2015 from 3.7% in 2007. [19] And, Honda-Seil, an Indo-Japan child company of Honda Motors Japan, posted a 20 percent increase in sales for the first half of 2007. [20]

The Indo-Japan emergency currency swap agreement also increases economic cooperation between Tokyo and New Delhi. The agreement makes India commit upwards of $3 billion if Japanese foreign currency reserves get dangerously low --- likewise, Japan will commit a similar sum if India’s reserves hit rock bottom. [21] This agreement, though important, is largely a psychological boost for Delhi-Tokyo relations as both nations are unlikely to have a foreign currency reserve crisis similar to the Asian flu of the late 1990s. [22] However, this agreement represents an important development in institutional terms because it establishes legal commitments to aid each other during times of crisis. This agreement, similar to other legal agreements, further accentuates the development of a cooperative alliance structure.

Fostering greater economic cooperation between Japan and India promises substantial financial dividends for Japan. According to Toshihiko Fukui, the Governor of Japan’s central bank, Indian consumer appetite, measured in purchasing power, will by 2025 outpace Japan and become the third largest in the world behind the U.S. and China. [23]

Potential Areas for Greater Cooperation:

There is substantial room for greater Indian and Japanese cooperation. High tech innovations in biotech, nanotech and information technology have the potential to benefit Japan’s hardware driven technology sector and India’s software dominated market. [24]

In fact, in December 2005 Abe and Singh agreed to invigorate cooperation on joint research and development programs, including in the nanotech and biotech fields — a partnership that will likely develop scientific breakthroughs and practical utility. [25]

Furthermore, India’s cheap labor, expansive iron ore deposits, and consumer demand for automobiles will provide substantial room for cooperation between powerhouse Japanese automobile manufactures, such as: Toyota, Suzuki, and Nissan. This is already materializing as Suzuki and Toyota are off-shoring product development to India where automobile manufacturers are proposing cheaper and more affordable cars for India’s growing middle-class. [26]

India’s ability to export raw materials, textiles, and marine stock for Japanese consumers offers Tokyo a means to satiate consumer demand while maintaining a competitive edge in the multibillion dollar global fish markets. Additionally, Indian exports of textiles will rise by 100% in the coming years and Japan offers a prime market for importing Indian garments and clothing. [27]

India can also offer Japan service based jobs that will assuage many fears related to Japan’s large aging population. For example, 14% of the Japanese population is above 65 years of age --- a figure expected to rise by 10% or to approximately 25% in 2015. [28] Contrast this to India’s estimated half a billion 20 and younger population demographic and it becomes apparent that India has the potential to fill many service industry related jobs that Japan’s aging workforce cannot. [29] India’s education system, though in need of major reforms, produces millions of graduates well versed in high-tech skills capable of meeting Japanese business needs through either outsourcing or off-shoring jobs.

India and Japan also boast large pharmaceutical plants that generate substantial revenue. Future cooperation in this field promises both innovation and cheaper drugs. India’s burgeoning biochemical and biotech industries will benefit tremendously from greater Japanese support. For example, in June 2006 Ram Vilas Paswan, Indian Minister for Steel, Fertilizers and Chemicals, organized a six-day tour of Japanese pharmaceutical and chemical processing plants, “to explore the vast potential and expertise offered by the Japanese pharmaceutical and chemical majors.” [30] Moreover, Japanese Ambassador Enoki remarked that pharmaceuticals are the “next promising area” in Indo-Japanese business cooperation. [31] India’s ability to manufacture cheap medicine makes their products more cost competitive and highly attractive for exports. Japan’s aging population will also benefit from India’s ability to produce and export cheap drugs.

Information Technology:

Cooperation in the IT sector promises to be a vibrant area of cooperation, however, Japanese and Indian partnerships remain minimal. Even though IT cooperation is increasing it is “only a fraction of the existing potential.” [32] For example, in 2006 IT related trade with Japan was estimated at only three percent of India’s total IT trade, compared to 66.5 percent with the United States. [33] Similarly, in 2004 Nobuo Ohashi the chairman of the Japan-India Business Cooperative Committee India, pointed out that Indian software remains largely ephemeral to the Japanese market.

India is a global leader in software development while Japan remains a global model for hardware development and production. The intersection between software and hardware offers both nations expansive opportunities for financial gains and innovation. Moreover, India’s traditional strength as a software giant is gradually evolving to become a powerhouse for semiconductor development and production - it is estimated that by decades’ end Indian hardware production capabilities will overtake China. [34] India’s cheap labor force could aid the Japanese manufacturing chain by producing cheaper pre-form products destined to Japan for final assembly and export.

Fortunately, the last three years have also witnessed substantial gains for Indian software firms in Japan with over 70 new firms opening offices throughout the country; however, this number does not reflect Japanese firms outsourcing many IT related jobs to Bangalore’s Silicon Valley nor does it account for increasing numbers of Indian consultants working in Japan as a result of progressive changes in Japan’s visa allocation policies. [35] Off-shoring and outsourcing jobs to India can decrease overhead costs for Japanese firms and also make their products more cost-competitive vice China’s exports.

ODA/Foreign Assistance Loans

India is the largest recipient of Japanese ODA. Japanese assistance focuses primarily on: developing economic infrastructure, including in the power and transportation sectors; poverty reduction programs and agriculture and rural development projects; environmental protection; and, medical and healthcare programs. [36] For example, “Japan’s leading financial institution, Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) will fund a project to provide 100 per cent of water supply and sewerage connectivity in all major cities of Punjab.” [37] This is significant because Punjab is an important economic and political state for India. The loan will have a nominal interest rate of .75 percent that will be recovered over 30 years with a 10 year grace period post project completion. Many other ODA related projects will continue to help India and Japan achieve their goals for poverty alleviation and economic development.

However, Japan’s checkbook diplomacy must not be a substitute for invigorating greater economic cooperation between both public and private enterprises. Moreover, tying Japanese ODA to infrastructure development will help assuage growing infrastructure related costs that India will incur in the upcoming years. This was affirmed in the text of the Abe-Singh Joint Statement Towards Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership, Japan in December 2006.

The August 2007 Abe-Singh summit ironed out an agreement on the level of Japanese economic assistance to develop the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor (DMIC) which includes the development of highways, sea ports, airports, special economic zones, and power generation facilities capable of generating 4,000MWe. The project is estimated to cost between $90-100 billion. [38]

The DMIC will cut across six Indian states and is modeled after the Tokyo-Osaka industrial corridor. The DMIC has the potential to integrate and expand economic opportunities through a 1,500 km corridor that will cross the most economically significant Indian states --- these states account for 54 percent of India’s gross industrial output and 60 percent of its total exports. [39] The significance of the DMIC project will usher in a more robust bilateral relationship between Japan and India.

The project will simultaneously open room for Japanese companies to invest in India’s future. According to JETRO Chairman Watanabe, “It is difficult to estimate the quantum of investment that the project will invite. However, it is certain that the investment will be huge as it’s based on the successful model of Pacific industrial belt in Japan.” [40] According to an official in the Union Commerce Ministry the corridor will increase employment by 15 percent, industrial output by 28 percent and exports by 38 percent. [41] However, even those numbers could increase if India’s economy achieves double digit growth — a high probability. [42]

Most importantly, India is a large consumer market with the potential to increase profits for Japanese corporations. Therefore, it is imperative that Japan continue to invest both FDI and ODA into India to ensure the expansion of India’s economy. A large and prosperous Indian middle class has the potential to increase Japanese exports to India ten-fold and should also serve to shape current Japanese economic cooperation with India. [43]

The onus should not rest squarely with Japan; India should also take a more proactive effort to develop infrastructure capable of meeting the requirements of Japanese industries. If properly managed, India’s rapidly ascending middle class promises to provide a multibillion dollar boost to the Japanese economy. Prime Minister Abe must make it a priority to ensure that this revenue flows into the coffers of Japan and not Beijing. However, in order for India to become a nation worthy of substantial Japanese investments they must respond to the chairman of Japan’s External Trade Organization (JETRO), Osamu Watanabe requests to lower high tariffs and resolve problems associated with inefficient and expensive government regulations and archaic infrastructure. [44] These factors inhibit Japanese investment but are in India’s best interest to resolve.

India and Japan are attractive and dynamic business partners because they both offer complimentary services. For example, Japan has a scarcity of laborers while India has abundance. This makes it easier for Japan to build factories in India and have low overhead costs and maintain high profit margins — a practice referred to as off-shoring.

India is on the verge of becoming a great economic power; however, its means of achieving this goal must be responsible and thoughtful. Stronger enforceable regulations help build investor confidence in export markets and weed out less scrupulous market players. India must ensure that its economic growth parallels evolutionary changes in its regulatory instruments or risk jeopardizing future financial gains. Failure to maintain export safety standards and effective export oversight mechanisms will doom India’s burgeoning global economy and likely increase the relative attractiveness of other foreign export markets, such as Brazil, China and Vietnam.

Part II: Energy

Indian and Japanese efforts to revitalize energy cooperation offer tremendous opportunities for both countries. Yasukuni Enoki, the Japanese Ambassador to India, stated recently that both nations need to focus on improving mutual cooperation in the energy sector. [45] Despite such positive statements, little joint action has occurred. This is of particular concern as both countries appetite for hydrocarbon increases — with India’s increasing at a virtually exponential and environmentally unsustainable level. [46]

According to a joint CSIS-Japan Institute of International Affairs-Confederation of Indian Industry report, “The four most significant areas for meeting India’s energy needs over the next two decades will be energy efficiency, biomass, nuclear energy, and clean coal.” [47] Japan has both market presence and extensive experience in all four areas and can provide New Delhi a viable partnership for a sustainable and security energy policy for the 21st century. [48]

Japan’s unique expertise in energy conservation is vital for India. A July 2007 agreement to increase cooperation on energy conservation and efficiency standards provides a model for how to utilize Japan’s expertise in the field of energy. The agreement includes “voluntary action plans to improve energy efficiency and increase cooperation in the development of renewable sources.” [49] The meeting produced a joint declaration that includes: bilateral energy audits for specific industrial sectors (e.g., iron, steel and cement); Japanese assistance to India to reduce consumption in “15 identified energy-intensive sectors;” and, Japan agreed to cooperate with the International Energy Agency to help India stockpile oil. [50]

Even though both nations have spoken about increasing energy cooperation little joint action has occurred in the past few years. [51] The launching of a dialogue on oil and natural gas between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan is the first of many new attempts to substantially increase energy cooperation between India and Japan. The meeting enhanced dialogue and cooperation between the two high-energy consuming nations, including agreements to increase exchanges of experts, training personnel in clean energy and energy conservation techniques and assisting India in the development of an efficient and cleaner energy infrastructure. [52]

In addition to energy cooperation, India imports substantial amounts of nuclear reactor technology and components from Japan. In fact, between 1999 and 2003 nuclear reactors and associated technology were the most imported items in dollar value from Japan accounting for approximately a billion dollars in trade. [53] Nuclear energy can both substantially decrease Indian C02 emissions and increase their energy security. [54] Even though Japan vocally disagrees with India’s non-party status to the NPT, the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal and India’s possession of nuclear weapons — nuclear energy cooperation has the potential to generate substantial revenue for Japanese corporations and assist India’s desire to become a more environmentally conscious nation. Prime Minister Abe’s desire to form a more independent and less pacifist Japanese constitution may alter Japan’s perception about a nuclear-armed India — particularly, if Japan believes that a nuclear armed India can help its security.

Since 1970, Japan has sought to decrease its dependence on external sources of energy for security reasons and continues to be a global leader in this field. [55] Their leadership in environmental policymaking is a model for all nations around the world. Even though the Kyoto agreement remains weak, Tokyo continues to champion efforts to bring industrialized and developing nations into global climate change accords, including Cool Earth-50, a Japanese post-Kyoto Protocol framework meant to create an effective multilateral solution for global warming. [56] India’s decision to sign Cool Earth-50 indicates growing acceptance from India to follow Japan’s environmental policymaking and advice. Room for energy and environmental cooperation promises immense returns for both nations - India just follow Japan’s leadership role and increase its commitment to energy conservation and sustainable environmental policymaking. [57]

Part III: Defense Cooperation

India’s decision to revitalize its post-independence “look East policy” has provided great opportunities to New Delhi in both defense and economic terms [58] — including vibrant defense ties with the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea, an energetic campaign to become a permanent member on the United Nations Security Council, and involvement in multilateral Asian organizations (e.g., Association for South East Asian Nations+3, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

Indo-Japanese defense cooperation has multiple incarnations. Both nations actively collaborate in peacekeeping and conflict resolution missions and have publicly stated a desire to expand their role in brokering regional peace agreements and humanitarian disaster relief operations. [59] This section will analyze India’s defense cooperation with Japan, including future possibilities for greater cooperation in aerospace, maritime defense, counter-terrorism, and counter-proliferation.

Maritime defense and cooperation is a centerpiece for Indo - Japan defense cooperation. Japan imports a majority of its oil from the Persian Gulf which requires overseas transports through the Indian Ocean. India’s navy enables the free flow of Japan’s oil imports by patrolling and defending sea lanes of communication (SLOC). Additionally, countering sea piracy in the Straits of Malacca is integral for Asian security. The Malaka Strait is one of the most important SLOCs in the world and serves as a proxy for almost 25 percent of the world’s maritime trade. If sea pirates were to block the Straits its impact on global trade would be substantial. India’s navy has proven capabilities and its ability to effectively project power in the region greatly reduces threats posed by sea piracy and smuggling. [60] Japan’s coast guard, the Maritime Safety Agency, is also cooperating with Indian naval patrols to counter sea piracy in the straits [61] and the potential for greater cooperation in both counterterrorism and counter-smuggling operations is immense..

Constructively dealing with the ascension of China is in both New Delhi and Tokyo’s best interest. So far it seems that both nations value cooperation over aggression as both nations continue to “play down the competitive dynamics of their relationship with Beijing and put the accent on cooperation.” [62] However, some Asian analysts contend that Indo - Japan naval cooperation is meant to contain and counter China’s “string of pearls” strategy. [63] A “string of pearls” strategy is a means to expand both commercial and political relations with another nation — in the case of China, Beijing crafts port agreements with Southeast Asian nations and nations surrounding India in an effort to establish a buffer zone to contain India. [64] A more appropriate characterization of India and Japan’s naval strategy is a cautious-containment strategy meant to hedge their security interests by establishing security guarantees throughout Asia. It seems more likely that both nations will forgo an aggressive China-centric naval doctrine in favor of achieving a more peaceful and prosperous Asia.

Moreover, Indo-Japanese counter proliferation cooperation should increase. India remains reticent about the legality of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI); however, given India’s newfound “responsible nuclear weapons status” it is important that India commit to multilateral programs meant to curb the illicit transfer and spread of nuclear weapons technologies. [65] Japan should push India for more counter proliferation support, be it intelligence or enforcement capabilities. Unfortunately, it remains unlikely that India will alter its stance because of contentious domestic debates surrounding the U.S. - India nuclear deal (“123 Agreement).

India should also recognize that greater involvement in counter-proliferation programs serves their national security interests. This is particularly true because of Pakistan and China’s strong involvement in the nuclear black market. Similarly, Japan realizes that North Korea and China play a significant role in ballistic missile proliferation and involvement in more robust counter-proliferation and interdiction campaigns can greatly increase Tokyo’s security. Increasing cooperation in counter proliferation will create more institutional links between New Delhi and Tokyo, further peace and security in the region, and simultaneously solidify alliance relations.

Space cooperation between Japan and India continues to increase. Some analysts attribute this to India’s growing telecommunications market and desire to learn and cooperate with the Japanese while others argue that in light of China’s January 2007 anti satellite test (ASAT) that India and Japan are seeking to develop defensive capabilities to offset growing Chinese space capabilities. [66] Moreover, the Japanese Exploration Agency (JAXA) and India Space Research Organization (ISRO) continue to promote ‘peaceful use’ policies in outer space. [67] Space cooperation will continue to be a ‘dual-use’ area of cooperation between India and Japan as both nations seek to increase their technological and military capabilities.

Non-traditional areas of cooperation also have the potential to increase overall defense relations between Tokyo and New Delhi. Michael Green, former senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council and Japan Chair at the CSIS, brought together senior policymakers from India, Japan and the U.S. to discuss how best to augment security in Asia. The conference proceedings revealed room for greater Japanese and Indian involvement in: humanitarian operations, developing better technology to determine if a nation has tested a nuclear weapon, and reiterated calls for greater trilateral security and defense cooperation-including, more dynamic maritime cooperation. [68]

Moreover, both Japan and India desire a democratic Myanmar and Nepal. India has historical relations with both Katmandu and Rangoon which can help in the formation of an agreement or institutional framework meant to foster a path towards democratic governance. [69] Also, it would be pertinent to utilize India and Japan’s historically neutral role as mediator. India, in particular, because of its historically non-aligned status has the potential to offer credible and useful diplomatic capital to resolve disputes. Japan’s ‘checkbook’ diplomacy could serve to supplement many of India’s ongoing negotiations and also offer a useful leverage to enforce compliance. Both nations’ maritime assets can also offer capabilities to deal with humanitarian operations --- evinced in joint Indo-Japan Tsunami relief operations in 2004.

It remains to be seen whether China’s ascension will be peaceful or aggressive. However, both India and Japan have convergent interests in protecting maritime trade, including energy transportation, and containing the potential aggressive rise of China. Both Abe and Singh’s desire to form a strategic partnership will continue to shape the level and frequency of defense cooperation — the Comprehensive Security Dialogue and Defense Policy Dialogue is already yielding high level civilian and military cooperation and will most likely foster conditions necessary to achieve a true Indo - Japanese strategic partnership. The August 2007 Abe-Singh summit will continue to plant the seeds for long-term strategic cooperation and further solidify Tokyo-New Delhi ties.


India and Japan are the largest democracies in Asia. Both nations have the potential to forge enduring peace and prosperity throughout Asia. However, rhetoric is insufficient to form an enduring alliance between the two nations. Fortunately, recent high-level meetings have fostered greater cooperative ventures between the two nations and established greater dialogue and common-areas for outcome based policymaking. In particular, institutional linkages that bind both nations will increase the edifice of the alliance, simultaneously encourage full-spectrum cooperation, and transform the India-Japan year of friendship into a lifelong relationship.

The strength of India and Japanese relations are buttressed by shared values such as democracy and free market ideals. [70] Both nations have a high commonality of interests and a desire for a peaceful and prosperous Asia. Moreover, it is in neither countries interest to agitate China — rather both Tokyo and New Delhi have been formulating policies that cajole China into acknowledging the importance of a peaceful Asia.

As Indo-Japanese cooperation increases both nations must integrate their partners foreign policy ambitions into policymaking decisions. Both Tokyo and New Delhi should determine the scope and purpose of the relationship in order to prevent alliance schisms down the line. Failure to do so will most assuredly risk alliance atrophy and reverse years of progress and stability in Asia.

It is also important that Singh and Abe shape a full-spectrum alliance that has a broader horizon than China. Dr. Michael Green aptly noted,

In all of this it is important that Japan-India relations not be premised on the China threat and not be seen as bookends to the rise of China. It’s neither in India’s and Japan’s interests, nor in the U.S. interests. And frequently in the past efforts to jumpstart Japan-India relations, it seems to have been largely pushed by those who are doing it vis-à-vis China. And for India-Japan relations to be sustainable, it has to be based on something much more than that. [71]

India is prime real estate for Japan, both in economic and defense terms and Tokyo should actively pursue greater cooperation with India. New Delhi has a lot to learn in all aspects of their relationship with Japan. However, and most presciently, Japanese leadership in climate change and energy conservation and efficiency programs will best serve India’s accession to great power status. Energy cooperation has the potential to develop stronger institutional ties between Tokyo and New Delhi and establish more shared and strategic objectives between the two nations.

India and Japan have a once in a generation opportunity to develop an alliance framework that goes beyond rhetoric towards outcome based relations. Success should no longer be measured by joint communiqués and statements, high-level meetings, and annual naval cooperation — rather, it should be measured by India and Japan’s ability to actively contribute to Asian security.

India’s ‘look eastward’ strategy holds great promise but New Delhi should move quicker in melting away the remnants of the Nehruvian non-aligned ideology towards a more proactive foreign policy meant to increase its global and regional standing as well as enlarge its economic and security interests. Japan should take this opportunity to plant the ‘Rising Sun’ in India and cash in on the benefits of what promises to be an incredible and exciting Asian century.

(Author is a research associate at the Center for a New American Security concentrating on Asian affairs. The views expressed by the author are his own. The author can be reached at e-mail:


[1This article builds upon an opinion piece by: Kurt Campbell and Nirav Patel, “The Elephant and the Rising Sun,” The Yomiuri Shimbun (17 August 2007)

[2Such as: culture and performing arts, academic and personnel exchanges, tourism, economy and industry, and environment and energy. See: The Yomiuri Shimbun, “Govt eyes 40 Japan-India projects,” (16 August 2007)

[3Quotation appears in Brahma Chellaney, “Japan - India partnership key to bolstering stability in Asia,” The Japan Times (14 December 2006)

[4See: Deborah Haber, “The Death of Hegemony: Why Pax Nipponica is Impossible,” Asian Survey 30:9 (1990):899

[5Purnendra Jain, “Japan’s Relations with South Asia,” Asian Survey 37:4 (April 1997): 342

[6Thomas Thornton, “India Adrift: The Search For Moorings in a New World Order,” Asian Survey 32:12 (December 1992): 1068

[7The Press Trust of India, “India - Japan bilateral trade expected to reach greater heights,” (13 August 2007)

[8Michael Green, “Symposium on Japan and India: Challenges and Prospects in Asia and Pacific in the 21st Century,” (10 March 2006):48

[9See: Tomoda Seki, “A Japan - India Front,” Far Eastern Economic Review 163:21 (25 May 2000): 38

[10Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech at the Indo-Japanese Business Luncheon in Tokyo, Japan (December 2006)

[11The Daily Yomiuri “Japan - India Partnership vital in East Asia,” (15 December 2006)

[ “India’s Trade Partners,” (n/d) [IndiaOneStop.Com was founded by a group of Indian media and infotech professionals in Dubai in January 1998 and has been online since June 1998.]

[13Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech at the Indo-Japanese Business Luncheon in Tokyo, Japan (December 2006)

[14For example: A 2005 report by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation lists India as the second most preferred zone for economic investment-second only to China.[14] Case in point: Suzuki autos plans to invest upwards of $1.7 billion in India by 2010 to increase its production capacity of car engine; Toyota motor company and Nissan both plan independent investments and development of new factories in India by 2010; Zentek Technology is setting up a research and development platform in Gurgaon; and Kyushu Electric, amongst others, is developing environmentally and economically efficient energy technologies.

[15External Affairs Minister of the Government of India Shri K. Natwar Singh at the Federal of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (29 April 2005). See, also: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech at the Indo-Japanese Business Luncheon in Tokyo, Japan (December 2006)

[16“Japan-India Relations: Map of Japanese Companies’ Establishments in India,” Embassy of Japan (February 2007)

[17Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech at the Indo-Japanese Business Luncheon in Tokyo, Japan (December 2006).

[18The Financial Express, “Sony aims to be US$ 2 billion entity in India,” (12 July 2007)

[19The Financial Express, “Toyota to augment India capacity to 6,00,000 by 2015,” (6 July 2007)

[, “Honda Siel Cars India cumulative sales up 20.10 pct,” (1 August 2007)

[21Deepshikha Sikarwar, “Japan, India to ink currency swap deal,” The Economic Times (4 August 2007)

[22Deepshikha Sikarwar, “Japan, India to ink currency swap deal,” The Economic Times (4 August 2007)

[23The Economic Times, “Indian Economy to surpass Japan,” (29 May 2007)

[24Ajay Khanna, “India-Japan ties: More hay to make from the rising sun,” The Hindu Business (13 June 2006)

[25Smita Prakash, “India, Japan for joint research in IT, nano-technology,” ANI (15 December 2006)

[26“India’s Tata Motors expects to launch an ambitious 2,500 dollar car in late 2008...” Rebecca Catching, “China’s and India’s R&D, patents foretell grander ambitions,” MarketWatch (6 August 2007)

[27Press Release from Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, “India’s Share in Global Textiles Trade to Reach US $ 10 Billion by 2012,” (27 July 2007)

[28Suvrokamal Dutta, “India - Japan ties on a new threshold,” (18 July 2007) The author is Chairman Global Council for Peace and Convener Debating India

[29Suvrokamal Dutta, “India - Japan ties on a new threshold,” (18 July 2007) The author is Chairman Global Council for Peace and Convener Debating India

[30Kirsty Barnes, “Japan and India eye each other for new pharma deals,” (20 July 2006)

[, “Japan to invest $2 billion in India,” (14 December 2005)

[32External Affairs Minister of the Government of India Shri K. Natwar Singh at the Federal of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (29 April 2005)

[33Takashi Kitazume, “Young and tech savvy, India’s market remains largely untapped: Japanese only beginning to beef up presence in competitive subcontinent,” The Japan Times (30 September 2006). Also, see: Teresita Schaffer and Vibhuti Hate, “India, China and Japan,” South Asia Monitor 102 (3 January 2007)

[34Takashi Kitazume, “Young and tech savvy, India’s market remains largely untapped: Japanese only beginning to beef up presence in competitive subcontinent,” The Japan Times (30 September 2006)

[35Ajay Khanna, “India-Japan ties: More hay to make from the rising sun,” The Hindu Business (13 June 2006)

[36Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Outline of Japan’s ODA to India,” (n/d; DOA 7/31/2007)

[37The Economic Times, “Japanese Company to Fund Punjab Civil Project,” (6 July 2007)

[38The Economic Times, “Japan keen on Delhi-Mumbai Corridor,” (30 June 2007).

[39“Building a New Industrial Corridor,” India Now 4:2 (2 July 2007):48

[40“Building a New Industrial Corridor,” India Now 4:2 (2 July 2007):47

[41Ibid., 47


[43“India-Japan Relations,” IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation) Economic Backgrounder (

[44Interview with Chairman of JETRO Osamu Watanabe, (23 June 2003)

[45The Hindu, “India, Japan need to focus on defence, nuclear energy,” (4 August 2007)

[46See: India Energy Outlook 2007, KPMG in India

[47Michael Green and Office of the Japan Chair, “The United States, Japan, and India: Toward a New Trilateral Cooperation,” (16 August 2007):4

[48Ibid., 4

[49The Hindu Business Line, “India, Japan to firm up plans for energy ties,” (3 July 2007)

[50The Hindu Business Line, “India, Japan to firm up plans for energy ties,” (3 July 2007)

[51Teresita Schaffer and Vibhuti Hate, “India, China and Japan,” South Asia Monitor 102 (3 January 2007

[52Noriyuki Ishii, “First Indo-Japan Energy Dialogue Held at METI,” Atoms in Japan (23 April 2007)

[53“India’s Major Trade Partners 1999-2003,” (DOA 31 July 2007)

[55See: India-Japan Energy Forum, “Promoting Cooperation in Energy Sector,” (6-7 December 2006)

[56See: Office of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, “Cool Earth-50,” (24 May 2007)

[58See: Satyajit Mohanty, “Indo-Japan Relations and the Asian Security System,” IPCS Article No. 2340 (25 July 2007)

[59Chietigj Bajpaee, “Strategic Interests Pull Japan and India Together,” Power and Interest News Report (16 Feb 2007). See also: Lisa Curtis, “India’s Expanding Role in Asia: Adapting to Rising Power Status,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No.2008 (20 February 2007): 8

[60Masahiro Akiyama, “Symposium on Japan and India: Challenges and Prospects in Asia and Pacific in the 21st Century,” (10 March 2006):72

[61Vijay Sakhuja, “Supporting the Malaca Strait Troika: Indo-Japanese Approach to Counter Piracy,” SSPC Brief 31 (11 April 2005). Also, see: Lisa Curtis, “India’s Expanding Role in Asia: Adapting to Rising Power Status,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No.2008 (20 February 2007): 7

[62Brahma Chellaney, “Japan - India partnership key to bolstering stability in Asia,” The Japan Times (14 December 2006)

[63A “string of pearls” strategy is a means to expand both commercial and political relations with another nation --- in the case of China, Beijing crafts port agreements with Southeast Asian nations and nations surrounding India in an effort to establish a buffer zone to contain India. See: Tomoda Seki, “A Japan - India Front,” Far Eastern Economic Review 163:21 (25 May 2000): 38

[64Lisa Curtis, 7

[65Michael Green, “Symposium on Japan and India: Challenges and Prospects in Asia and Pacific in the 21st Century,” (10 March 2006):49

[66Satyajit Mohanty, “Indo-Japan Relations and the Asian Security System,” Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies Report, no.2340 (25 July 2007)

[67Joint Statement Toward Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership (December 2006)

[68Michael Green and Office of the Japan Chair, “The United States, Japan, and India: Toward a New Trilateral Cooperation,” (16 August 2007): 2-4

[69Yasuhisa Shiosaki, “Symposium on Japan and India: Challenges and Prospects in Asia and Pacific in the 21st Century,” (10 March 2006):5

[70Yasuhisa Shiosaki, “Symposium on Japan and India: Challenges and Prospects in Asia and Pacific in the 21st Century,” (10 March 2006): 4-5

[71Green, 47

 source: IntelliBriefs