Challenges and Prospects of Japan’s Diplomacy – in the context of India-Japan relationship at Observer Research Foundation

 (June 7, 2016 at Observer Research Foundation)

It has been only six months since I assumed my current position in November last year but I feel vividly that Japan and India have become true partners and that our relationship has entered a new stage.


Japan and India share many cultural traditions. Buddhism came from India to Japan in the 6th century. Hinduism and ancient Shintoism have many aspects in common including respect for nature. Both countries share basic values such as true democracy, human rights, respect for international laws, rule-based order, freedom of navigation and open global trade regime. It is very important that we share these basic values as we expand the relationship between the two countries.


Japan and India have complementarity in our economic structures. Japan has high-end technology in manufacturing sector. We have well known work disciplines and well developed infrastructures. However, we have problems as well. Declining population and aging society are major challenges of our society. As we have limitation in the domestic market, we need business opportunities overseas. India, on the other hand, has a very aspirational young population. It needs FDI especially in the manufacturing sector. It also has vast infrastructure development needs in highways, sanitation, farming and so forth. Japan supports “Make in India” and other initiatives of Prime Minister Modi.


What is most important in our relationship is that we share strategic values and interests. We observe a shift in the global power balance and we are facing more complicated and globalized strategic situation especially in Asia. Japan needs a strategic partner for our deterrence and self-protection. The same can be said for India as well. Japan and India share maritime security interests. We have to protect the vital sea lane from the Indian Ocean through the South China Sea and the East China Sea to Japan. It is important to ensure peaceful circumstances in these oceans. As you may remember, Prime Minister Abe visited India in 2007 during his first tenure as Prime Minister and he made a speech titled “Confluence of the Two Seas” in the Indian parliament. In his speech, Prime Minister Abe mentioned that peace and stability of the two seas, which are the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, is crucial for prosperity and security of the two countries. This philosophy is even more relevant in the current situation.


I would like to touch upon Japan’s security policy as I was in charge of making Japan’s new security policy before coming to India. The basic idea of Japan’s new security policy is “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. This idea is mentioned in the National Security Strategy, which was adopted for the first time in 2013. The adoption of the document was realized under a strong leadership of Prime Minister Abe.


The policy review took place against the backdrop of the changing power balance and security situation in the region. In East Asia, there exists a country which owns a large military power and is expanding it. As you know, North Korea conducted a nuclear test in January and launched a long range missile in February this year, thus posing a serious threat to Japan’s security. There is no institutionalized security cooperation mechanism similar to NATO or OAS in this region to tackle the changing security situation. ARF is basically a framework for confidence building. Therefore the security alliance with the U.S. continues to be a main pillar for maintaining peace and stability in the region. We also welcome the rebalance of the U.S. forces.


The international community expects Japan to play a more proactive role for peace and stability in the world. Based on the recognition that no country can secure its own peace only by itself, the National Security Strategy refers to the importance of the deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. Alliance. It also emphasizes the importance to deepen cooperation with other partners such as India and Australia. We hope that our relationship will be upgraded to a higher stage.


Japan’s basic posture of a peace-loving nation is unchanged. Japan will not become a major military power. Japan’s defense measures are strictly defensive and Japan will never be an aggressor overseas. Japan also adheres to the three non-nuclear principles.


After having intensive discussions on how to operationalize this security strategy into real policies and actions, we adopted new legislations to address the changing international situation. We need seamless responses to secure the lives and peaceful livelihood of the Japanese people. Previously, it was considered that the use of force was permitted only when Japan had an armed attack. However, given the changing situation surrounding Japan, we changed the interpretation of the constitution to enable us to exercise the right of collective self-defense in very exceptional cases in which an armed attack against a foreign country threatens Japan’s survival. The new legislation also enables us to make more active contributions to PKOs and other multinational operations, without engaging in combat operations. It is expected that the Japan-U.S. Alliance will be enhanced and our partnership with countries like India and Australia will be expanded and upgraded. In the National Security Strategy, it is clearly mentioned that India has high growth potential and is geopolitically important for Japan. In the document, it is said that Japan will enhance relationship with India in various areas including maritime security.


The National Security Strategy mentions not only military and hard security matters but also the importance of contributions to global issues including climate change, poverty reduction, health care, empowerment of women and so forth.


When Prime Minister Modi visited Japan in 2014, the relationship between the two countries was upgraded to the Special Strategic and Global Partnership. When Prime Minister Abe visited India last year, “Japan-India Vision 2025” was announced. We will ensure implementing what the two Prime Ministers agreed. “Vision 2025” is a broad-based and action-oriented document. It is important to implement concrete actions of our partnership.


Prime Minister Abe said that our relationship was blessed with the largest potential for development of any bilateral relationship anywhere in the world and that our relationship had entered into a new stage. Even though I have been in my current position for six months, I do feel our close relationship every day. What Prime Minister Abe said about our relationship is not an exaggeration.


With regard to our strategic and political cooperation, in the last summit meeting, the two Prime Ministers agreed that Japan would participate in the Malabar maritime exercise on a regular basis. It will strengthen military cooperation between Japan, India and the United States. The exercise will take place from June 10 to 17 in Sasebo Port and maritime area east of Okinawa. Also, on the occasion of Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India last year, the agreement concerning the transfer of defense equipment and technology as well as the agreement concerning security measures for the protection of classified military information were singed. We are in the process of identifying what kind of equipments and technologies to be transferred to India. If concrete results come out from the discussions, it will lead to more solid security cooperation between the two countries. We also hope a decision will be made by the Indian side on the US-2.


Japan and India have regular dialogues on maritime security issues which include joint exercises and staff talks between the Self Defense Forces and the Indian Armed Forces as well as joint exercises between the Japan Coast Guard and the Indian Coast Guard. We hope that stable situation in the South China Sea is maintained and that the rule of law including UNCLOS prevails in this region. We share this understanding with Indian side.


The level and depth of strategic dialogues between the two countries have been enhanced with more frequent dialogues between the foreign secretaries as well as military to military dialogues taking place. I would also like to highlight the importance of trilateral cooperation between Japan, India and the United States as well as between Japan, India and Australia. The depth of discussions increases every time we meet. Last September, at the margin of the United Nations General Assembly, the foreign ministers of Japan, India and the United States gathered for the first time to discuss issues of mutual concern.


In the economic and investment realm, Japanese investment to India in the fiscal year 2015 was around $2.6 billion whereas that in the previous year was $2.0 billion. I am pleased to see the increase of the figures. When Prime Minister Modi visited Japan in 2014, Prime Minister Abe made a commitment to invest 3.5 trillion yen in India in five years and to double the investment in the same period. It includes not only private investments but also ODA assistance to meet India’s needs including infrastructure projects.


Japan is one of the largest investors in the manufacturing sector in India. It contributes greatly to “Make in India” initiative. What is important along with “Make in India” is “Export from India.” A Japanese company Suzuki has been in the Indian market for more than 30 years. This year they started to export cars made in India to Japan. This is the very first trial for Suzuki. Japanese market is very competitive and the demands of the consumers are very high. I am pleased to see the cars made in India have met the high standard of Japanese consumers. It is a very good example of a combination of “Make in India” and “Export from India”.


High speed railway is a symbolic joint venture between Japan and India. We had two joint committee meetings. Secretary level participants from Indian side attended the meeting held in Tokyo, which demonstrates the importance India attaches to the project.


For civil nuclear cooperation, we reached the agreement in principle for the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between Japan and India when Prime Minister Abe visited India last year. We are now working on its technical details to be finalized, including through necessary internal procedures.


Cooperation on metro is also expanding. Metro is now expanding to include other major cities such as Chennai, Ahmadabad, Mumbai and Bangalore. Japan makes financial support to this project.


We expect each state to provide an environment to attract more Japanese investment. I speak with my counterparts in the Indian government frequently to discuss how we can increase investments from Japan.


One important pillar of our new policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” is more active contribution to global issues. I was in charge of negotiations on climate change five years ago and had very tough negotiations with relevant counterparts including those of India. In addition to climate change, we can work together on WTO and SDG. Cooperation on UNSC reform is one of the most important items of cooperation. The G4 Director Level meeting on UNSC reform took place in Tokyo yesterday. Japan and India are collaborating in other international and regional organizations such as EAS and ARF as well. We support India’s membership in APEC and we hope it will become a member sometime soon.


Finally, we would like to see more people to people exchanges between the two countries. The level of tourism is still very low. I hope the Indian people know the charms and attractiveness of Japanese hospitality, beautiful scenery and good food. As ambassador, I will do my best to increase the number of tourists between the two countries.