Green Tech and Security Talks Take Centre Stage

In addition to technological collaboration, S Jaishankar also batted for increased defence cooperation between India and Japan, besides working together for reforms of international bodies like the United Nations, during his recent visit to Japan

By Asad Mirza

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

On the second leg of his East Asian tour, EAM Jaishankar travelled to Japan. Besides focussing on the bilateral ties, the visit was also aimed at further enhancing India-Japan cooperation in emerging fields like green technology, and digital transformation and also review the security dialogue between the two countries, besides discussing measures to counter the common adversary i.e. China.

On March 7, addressing the first Raisina Roundtable in Tokyo, S Jaishankar, citing the turbulence in India’s relationship with China amid the continuing border standoff, said that it is a cause of concern if a country doesn’t observe written agreements with its neighbours and also raises a question on the said country’s intentions.

EAM also said that when big power shifts take place in the Indo-Pacific region, there are accompanying and strategic consequences, although countries intend to keep relationships stable despite changing dynamics but that has not been the case with China.

Indo-Japanese Defence Ties

Promoting India’s recent accomplishments and advances in various fields, Jaishankar said that whether it is the ease of doing business, infrastructure development, ease of living, digital delivery, startup, and innovation culture… India is clearly a very different country today. This is important for the Japanese to recognise, adding that India is increasingly turning to like-minded partners who gather together for a particular purpose. Agreeing that the most universal expression of the global order is still the United Nations, Dr Jaishankar said that its reform is of paramount importance, and India and Japan seek to make the UN structures more contemporary.

The minister also called for Japanese cooperation concerning the development assistance in the Global South. He added that as a leading voice of the Global South, and being “particularly conscious of this responsibility”, India’s development efforts today span 78 nations across different continents.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said there was “an increasing need” for India and Japan to step-up security cooperation as the two countries held talks to further strengthen military ties amid growing tension from China and Russia in the region. She also said they agreed to look for possibilities to extend their cooperation to new areas of space and cyber security.

India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership has further deepened in the last decade in areas such as defence and digital technologies, semiconductor supply chains, clean energy, high speed rail, industrial competitiveness and connectivity.

Defence Ties

The meetings between the Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada with their Indian counterparts, S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh, in Tokyo, comes at a sensitive time as Russia holds a major multinational military exercise in its far east, with China and India part

Stating that the world is now more volatile, uncertain, unpredictable, and open-ended, Jaishankar said that it is a “prospect that India and Japan have to confront, both from the national perspectives as well as from the point of view of their own relationship”.

He noted Russia’s war on Ukraine, China’s increasingly assertive and coercive actions, including escalating tension near Taiwan, as well as North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats. Hamada, who held defence talks with Indian MoD Rajnath Singh on March 7, said that bilateral and multinational joint exercises and other defence cooperation have expanded in recent years and will be raised to ‘new highs’. He said their first joint fighter jet training is being planned.

Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said on March 6, that Japan wants to step up joint military drills and cooperation in the development and transfer of military equipment and technology with India.

Japan hopes to expand military equipment transfers to back up its feeble defence industry as the country tries to bolster its military capability and spending as deterrence against growing threats from China, Russia and North Korea. Noting rapidly changing strategic relations and a worsening security environment on the global stage where divisions and contention are deepening, Kamikawa said Japan wants to work with India in resolving common issues through dialogue and cooperation.

S Jaishankar, citing China amid the continuing border standoff, said that it is a cause of concern if a country doesn’t observe written agreements with its neighbours and also raises a question on the said country’s intentions

Japan and India are discussing joint development of unmanned ground vehicle technology, Japanese officials said. Japan’s earlier plan to sell sea-landing planes to India has been held up, partly by the costs.

QUAD’s Direction

Japan and India, members of the Quad grouping that also includes the United States and Australia, have rapidly intensified bilateral ties amid shared concern about China’s increasingly assertive economic and military activities in the region. Japan also wants to reaffirm India’s support in promoting a “free and open Indo-Pacific vision” that Japan promotes with the United States as part of the Quad framework that also includes Australia as a counter to China’s assertiveness in the region, Japanese foreign ministry officials said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on March 8, speaking at Nikkei Forum on the India-Japan Special Strategic Partnership, said that solutions for India and Japan nationally, as well as regionally and globally, lie there. He further emphasised that India-Japan ties will both draw strength from larger activities together, especially from the Quad.

“My argument is that India-Japan ties will both draw strength from our larger activities together, especially from the Quad, but also contribute to its effectiveness and its breadth,” he said.

The two ministers welcomed expanding joint military exercises. Jaishankar said their countries would work together to enhance economic security and supply chain resilience, and discussed cooperation in areas such as semiconductor, green technology, and digital transformation.

India’s East Asian outreach comes at a time when the Indo-Pacific region is facing increasing Chinese belligerence in the region. India wants to hedge its bets with two leading players in East Asia, i.e. S Korea and Japan through defence ties but paramount to it is ensuring the access to the semiconductor industry and other key strategic areas, all of which were highlighted by the EAM in both the countries. Further with Japan, India needs to be seen as an equal partner in Quad, to gain the American confidence, as so far it has not been able to achieve the goals, for which it had joined the Quad.

–The writer is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He can be contacted on www.asadmirza.in. The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda