Indo-Japan ties: What lies next?

As Prime Minister NarendraModi comes close to completing 200 days in office, his tenure as the Prime Minister has perhaps come under more scrutiny than that of any of his close predecessors. His maiden visit to Japan, which took off with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe honoring him with Chanoyu, a rare tea ceremony was keenly watched by India’s close neighbors, especially China. With tensions rising between Japan and China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Japan was looking for strategic destinations to invest as an alternative to China. With an uncertain monsoon, still shaky Indian economy, Modi set off to Japan with the prime aim of inking a Nuclear Deal which is crucial to India’s energy security.

Although there was no commitment from Japan on the Nuclear front, it was a win-win situation for destiny’s own child NarendraModi who was promised $35 billion worth of investment by Abe and assurances of helping modernize Varanasi by converting it into a world class smart-city while preserving its cultural integrity on the lines of Kyoto. The fact that Modi clinched this deal, can although be attributed to Japan’s natural inclination towards looking at India as a potential alternative, but you can’t possibly take away the credit from the man who is currently in India’s topmost hot seat. There is little or no doubt about the fact that Modi’s visit to Japan has stirred the political discourse of its neighbors. While China keenly watched every move that Modi made in Japan, there’s little doubt about the fact that leaders from China are unhappy about the gracious hospitality which was shown to Modi- both on the political and economic front. Consider this, soon after Modi’s return to India,Shinzo Abe appointed two China friendly leaders to top posts in his party – LDP.

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This is largely being seen as a sign by the Japanese to allay fears in the mind of  China about Japan slowly forming a close pact with India which pits Japan and India against the  Asian behemoth. Modi’s Japan visit ensured that India received a much needed infusion of liquidity in its Foreign Reserves which according to reports have fallen by $810.7 million. India must understand that its efforts to reach out to Japan are not just critical for India’s financial stability, but to also balance political equations in the sensitive south-Asian region. While China’s long standing policy to back Pakistan to destabilize India is well known by now, Japan can be the game-changing factor for India in the long term and a crucial pivot in Asian geo-Politics. During the visit, Modi also extracted promises from Japan for technical aid for building Japan-like Bullet Trains in India. This is a long sought dream for the burgeoning Indian middle class who aspire for higher standards of living, and surely travelling in Bullet trains is something which they would look forward to. Industry leaders have largely cheered the moves Modi has made thus far, and even the numbers have stacked up in favor of the new government. While the GDP rose by 5.7 % in the first quarter of 2014, it is also the highest in 2.5 years.  The current account deficit also dipped to 1.7 % of GDP during the same tenure. ChandaKochhar, the current managing director and CEO of ICICI bank lauded Modi’s visit to Japan and acknowledged that partnership with Japan can be crucial for reviving the Indian economy.

So far,India’s foreign policy under the new government has sounded the right notes as far Economic revival is concerned. However, the big-bang reforms which were promised during the Modi’s high-pitch political campaign have still not found feet in India’s charged populist political environment. It will be interesting to see what course of action the chaiwallahfrom Gujarat takes in the coming years to steer India’s economic growth in the right direction.

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You will love reading: Infrastructure growth in India.  Must read article India’s Education System

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Indo-Japan ties: What lies next?

by Prashant Rakheja time to read: 3 min
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