Japan-India Strategic Partnership in the Era of Asian Regional Integration
On March 9, 2007, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) co-hosted the Japan-India Symposium Japan-India Strategic Partnership in the Era of Asian Regional Integration in New Delhi, India. It was the fourth in a series of such symposiums that have been held alternately in Tokyo and India since 2003, and it was attended by prominent figures from Japan, India, United States, Singapore and Bangladesh.
This year's symposium began with keynote speeches by Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuhito Asano and Minister of State for Industries Asshwani Kumar. They were followed by discussions by participants on topics such as future prospects for Asian regional integration and roles to be played by Japan and India as various regional cooperation efforts advance within South and East Asia. Possibilities for Japan-India cooperation in such areas as government and security as well as economy and energy were also addressed.
Spurred by heightened interest in Japan by the people of India in recent years, over 250 high-level people, including legislators, government-related personnel, and officers of leading corporations, came to listen to the symposium, exceeding the maximum capacity of the venue. India's newspapers reported on the symposium complete with photos, and NHK also covered the event.
- Sakutaro Tanino (Director, Toshiba Corporation; former Ambassador to India and China)
- N.K. Singh (Former Member, Planning Commission, Government of India)
- Katsuhito Asano, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Mikio Sasaki, Chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation
- Sadako Ogata, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
- Yoshihide Soeya, Professor, Keio University
- Yorizumi Watanabe, Professor, Keio University
- Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Industries
- Rakesh Mohan, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India
- M. K. Rasgotra, Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board; Former Foreign Secretary
- K.S. Parik (Member, Planning Commission, Government of India)
- Y.S. Rajan (Scientific Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister; Former Vice Chancellor, Punjab Technical University)
- Raja Mohan (Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; former editor at the Indian Express)
- B.S. Malik (President, Centre for Studies in International Relations and Development)
- Ashley Tellis (Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
- Hank Lim (Research Director, Singapore Institute of International Affairs)
- Ataur Rahman (Professor, University of Dhaka)
Keynote speech by Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuhito Asano
Many frameworks are being developed on multiple levels regarding Asian regional integration, including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the summit meeting for which was held in India in April, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
Japan and India share the universal values of freedom and democracy. The two countries must work closely together in areas such as peacebuilding and democratization. Japan will support peacebuilding developments in Nepal by dispatching self-defense personnel to the United Nations Political Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), as well as the democratization efforts in Bhutan.
Moreover, it is necessary to give backup support to the private sector efforts toward de facto integration. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Japan and India has significance in presenting a high quality model for economic partnership in expanding "open regionalism" in Asia, and Japan expects India to put forth active efforts to this end.
The South Asia region faces the issue of infrastructure development and harmonization of systems. Japan is ready to discuss the modalities of Japan-India cooperation in order to determine ways in which to utilize Japan's bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) through a project that covers the entire SAARC region.
Keynote speech by Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Industries
While Japan and India had long shared certain universal values, a distance existed between the two countries. With former Prime Minister Mori's visit to India in 2000, however, mutual relationships improved. Former Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to India in 2005, Prime Minister Singh's visit to Japan at the end of last year, and Prime Minister Abe's planned visit to India should deepen ties between the two countries even further.
Japan is a valuable business partner for India. India welcomes Japan's support as a leader of economic innovation, and will continue to offer its cooperation, aiming to further enhance the relationship between the two countries.
Session 1: General outlook, philosophy, principles, and basic strategies toward Asian regional integration
Rakesh Mohan, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India
The 21st century is the century for Asia. Asia should take advantage of its large population and economic progress to advance regional cooperation. For this, Japan-India cooperation is vital.
The next 30 years is important. I would ask Japan to pass on to India the technology and experiences it possesses in areas such as infrastructure development and energy supply.
Mikio Sasaki, Chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation
India is showing tremendous economic growth and great promise as a market. While trade increase between Japan and India remains limited, increase of middle-income bracket and high competitiveness of the software industry are giving India an edge, and this is expected to propel the economic relationship between Japan and India to advance even further in the future.
Japanese companies advancing into India have problems dealing with its infrastructure, complicated legal and taxation systems, and inefficient regulations for shipment among regional governments. It is important for governments to work on a Japan-India EPA and economic cooperation.
To promote the economic integration of the Asian region, Japan and India are expected to take leadership within the framework of ASEAN+6.
Sadako Ogata, President, JICA
JICA advocates a concept of "human security," based on the idea that people are positioned at the center of development assistance. It will help improve the livelihood of local regions by continuing to offer cooperation in areas of infrastructure development, environmental protection, social development, and human resources development, as agreed upon at the end of last year under the efforts put forth toward the Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership.
Session 2: Advancement of regional cooperation and the roles of Japan and India in East Asia and Asia-Pacific
Part 1: Government and security
Yoshihide Soeya, Professor, Keio University
As India and China rise to global prominence, and based on the premise of the Japan-US. alliance, it is necessary to consider ways in which to incorporate India as a strategic option. The viewpoint of Japan-US alliance must be included when discussing security between Japan and India, and at the same time, Japan and India must discuss the function of the Japan-US alliance.
The cooperation among Japan, the US, Australia, and India that is advocated by Prime Minister Abe, and the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity" as advocated by Minister Taro Aso have the following three points in common: 1) they are based on mutual trust under the Japan-US alliance, 2) they emphasize universal values such as freedom and democracy, and 3) they are counter-tactics against China's strategies.
North Korea's nuclear issue is a timely one, and an important subject of debate for Japan and India.
The US should be included in the process of establishing the East Asian community. Japan is to take on a special role, and India is also expected to become an important partner.
M. K. Rasgotra, Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board; former Foreign Secretary
In the future, a new regional order is expected to be established in Asia centered around the five core countries of Japan, India, China, Russia, and US.
In this expected regional order, it is important not to foster confrontation among the five countries, but rather to develop equilibrium among them. To make this possible, it is important for Japan and India, which do not face politically challenging issues, to exercise their partnership.
There are some who claim that the US is not part of the Asian community, but I disagree. The role of the US is essential for the future of Asia. We must seriously consider the best way to coexist and cooperate with the US.
Latent demand for nuclear energy is extremely great in India. Japan and India should advance bilateral cooperation in the area of civil nuclear energy as well.
Ashley Tellis (Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
Japan, US and India share the universal values of freedom and democracy, and their mutual future cooperation is highly important in handling regional and international issues. Cooperation in the area of security among the three countries will contribute to eliminating the vulnerabilities found in the globalized world.
Cooperation among Japan, the US, and India is not a strategy to compete against China, nor a substitute for the alliance with the US, but one with its own unique significance. This trilateral cooperation will benefit the entire region of Asia.
Part 2: Economy
Yorizumi Watanabe, Professor, Keio University
Intraregional trade within East Asia is advancing, and Japan has entered into, or has begun negotiations to enter into, EPAs with many East Asian countries including Singapore. From the viewpoint of East Asian Economic Community, economic partnerships are being advanced between ASEAN and many Asian countries.
Regarding the EPA between Japan and India, negotiations for which began in January 2007, focus should be placed on such issues as elimination of tariffs, antidumping measures, establishment of basic rules, simplification of procedures, transferring of personnel, intellectual property protection, government procurement, and improvement of business environments.
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) should be strategically advanced, and at the same time, commitment should be furthered in the World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
Hank Lim (Research Director, Singapore Institute of International Affairs)
In the process of economic integration of East Asia, ASEAN+3 should play the central role while ASEAN+6 plays a complementary role.
Japan, being the most powerful country in Asia, carries great responsibilities and plays a strategic role in the promotion of the region's economic integration. However, Japan's EPA policy lacks aggressiveness.
Japan must make efforts to establish firm bilateral ties with China.
India should actively take part in EPA negotiations with ASEAN. Furthermore, it should continue and expand its Look East Policy, and at the same time, use its superior level of services, information and communication technology (ICT), and education to provide support to CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam). Also, as a potentially powerful country, India should offer a contribution to develop stability and prosperity in Asia. To do this, it must address issues such as infrastructure development and improvement of rigid bureaucracy.
K.S. Parik (Member, Planning Commission, Government of India)
India, which continues to grow economically, can expect further increases in energy consumption. However, overseas businesses hesitate to enter its energy market due to India's limited technological capacity of electric power facilities and preferential treatment given to domestic energy companies.
From the viewpoint of increasing energy efficiency and promoting energy conservation, Japan and India should advance mutual cooperation in the area of energy technology.
Y.S. Rajan (Scientific Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister; Former Vice Chancellor, Punjab Technical University)
Japan has comparative advantage to India in areas of research and development of science and technology, and India wishes to receive Japan's cooperation in these areas. Discussions have taken place so far, but they have not yet led to any form of concrete cooperation efforts. However, if the issue is approached flexibly, there is a wide range of areas with potential for cooperation.
It is necessary to keep in mind that Japan-India strategic partnership benefits not only Japan and India but also the entire region, and therefore it is not a zero-sum game.
Session 3: Progress and prospects of regional integration in South Asia, contributions of Japan and India
Raja Mohan (Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University; former editor at the Indian Express)
The South Asian region used to be the prototype of Asia's stagnancy, but now the economy is developing not only in India but in the entire region.
It goes without saying that India carries great responsibility in promoting SAARC regional integration, but there are also expectations toward Japan, the greatest donor country. The upcoming SAARC summit meeting in which Japan will participate for the first time as an observer presents an important opportunity.
Advancement of SAARC integration will lead to peace and prosperity for South Asia.
The significance of Japan-India-US cooperation should be determined based on its functional importance. Advancement of this trilateral cooperation does not conflict with friendly relations India is developing with China.
Ataur Rahman (Professor, University of Dhaka)
South Asia is an important region for the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity" that Japan is currently making efforts to promote. Japan's adoption of this form of policy has heightened the significance of SAARC cooperation. Japan's participation as an observer in the next SAARC summit meeting will push the relationship between Japan and SAARC to a new level.
Japan has been promoting East Asia's infrastructure development, interregional trade, and investment through ODA and by providing expertise. Similar strategies should be developed for cooperation between Japan and SAARC as well in the future.
At the Japan-SAARC Symposium held last year in Dhaka, priority areas for cooperation were specified. They included disaster prevention, regional infrastructure development, human exchange of youths and others, and capacity building.
B.S. Malik (Former Chief of Staff, Western Command)
Japan is one of the greatest investors in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC. Its seven member states are Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar). However, the growth rate of direct investment is not high, and the amount of trade between Japan and BIMSTEC remains low.
Japan and BIMSTEC should deepen mutual cooperation in areas such as cultural and human resources development, science and technology, education, infrastructure development, energy, and disaster prevention.
Closing session: Unification of regional integration in East Asia, Asia-Pacific, and South Asia, and future prospects for the pan-Asian community
Summarization by the co-chairs
Chairman N. K. Singh stated that while he was able to hear many deeply meaningful discussions, Mitsubishi Corporation Chairman Sasaki's speech in particular expressed assertiveness not seen in past Japanese business leaders. Mr. Singh said he had gotten a real sense that Japanese companies had become serious about investing in India. Ambassador Tanino summarized the symposium by stating that the large audience and their enthusiasm made him see that Japan-India relations had finally reached a point of making a great leap forward.
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