Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Interview with Times of India
January 25th 2014
Q: Japan plays an important role in the transformation of India. You have played a personal role in building the India-Japan relationship. What are the measures by which you think Japan can help in building India in the larger strategic context of Asian security, stability and prosperity?
A: First of all, I feel deeply honoured to be the first Japanese prime minister to be invited as the chief guest of India's most important celebration, that of the Republic Day celebration.
I am truly delighted that Japan and India have long developed very close and friendly relations over the years. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the extremely warm welcome extended from the people and the government of India to Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, when they visited the country from the end of November until the beginning of December last year.
I am convinced that the bilateral relationship between Japan and India is blessed with the largest potential for development of any bilateral relationship anywhere in the world. With this in mind, I would like to develop vigorously and enhance our cooperative relationship with India in a wide range of areas including political and security fields, economic relations, and people-to-people exchange, based on "the Strategic and Global Partnership".
Japan's support for India's development has been consistent. Back in 1991, for instance, Japan provided India with an emergency balance of payment support, which helped the Indian economy and its ascendancy in the global economy. Since then, Japan has been consistently supporting India, as demonstrated by the fact that India has been the largest partner of Japan's Official Development Assistance since 2003.
Further, the economic cooperation between Japan and India has now expanded into the private sector. Over the last decade, the trade volume between our two countries has tripled and the number of Japanese companies operating in India has quadrupled. Indeed, Japan and India have established a "win-win" economic partnership.
India's stable development is also beneficial for the prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, as the country has the third largest economy in Asia and the second largest and increasing population in the world. I am determined to contribute to the development of our two nations and prosperity of the region through further strengthening the Japan-India strategic economic partnership and promoting Japanese companies' investment into India.
Compared to the growing political and economic ties between Japan and India, people-to-people exchange between the two countries currently leaves more room to grow. In order to keep the Japan-India relationship on a further solid and sound base with wider scope, I will make further efforts to impart energy to human exchange so that more people travel back and forth and actively interact between our two countries.
Q: You have said you want Japan to become a 'normal' power. What would you like India to do in the area of defence and maritime security cooperation to help Japan achieve this goal?
A: Today, the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region is becoming ever more severe. As the world becomes more interdependent, I believe Japan should play a more active role than before to ensure peace and stability in the region and the world, under the understanding of 'Proactive Contributor to Peace' based on the principle of international cooperation. I fully recognize the tremendous role India plays in this perspective, and hope that Japan and India will further strengthen the cooperation in the field of security.
To be specific, our two governments should deepen our dialogue and share each other's understanding on regional security, to start with. It is therefore important to further enhance bilateral dialogues such as the "2 plus 2" Secretary Level Dialogue, and multilateral dialogues such as the Trilateral Dialogue among Japan, India and the United States. In addition, we need to continue and strengthen our bilateral and multilateral joint maritime exercises. The joint exercises, conducted on a regular basis by our maritime defence forces and coast guards, embody the strong ties between Japan and India in maritime security. I expect these exercises will be further promoted and expanded.
Japan and India are bound by the seas. As I stated during my last visit to India as prime minister in 2007, I expect both Japan and India, as maritime states, to play a vital role together for the security of sea lanes and jointly carry out their responsibility in the region.