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Yasushi Tomiyama

【#194】Japan-India Cooperation Can Contribute to Asian Security

Yasushi Tomiyama / 2013.05.23 (Thu)

May 20, 2013


       The Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and India’s Vivekananda International Foundation have compiled a joint study report concluding that the two major Asian democracies of Japan and India should deepen cooperation in the fields of security, industry and international politics and could contribute to peace and stability in the region at a time when China enhances its self-righteous approach and causes frictions with other Asian countries. The report was released in Tokyo and New Delhi simultaneously on May 21.

Proposal to create an “Asian Concert”
       The joint study has come amid an international strategic environment change in which the U.S. Obama Administration has declared the United States’ return to Asia after allowing China to rise in the Asia-Pacific region while the United States had been busy with war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reminding so-called “European Concert” that maintained peace among major European countries for 100 years between the 1815 end of Napoleon War and the 1914 outbreak of World War I, the JINF-VIF report proposes that Japan and India work jointly with other Asian countries and the United States to build an “Asian Concert.”
       Specifically, the Japanese and Indian think tanks have agreed that Japan, India and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations share concerns over China’s military buildup and should cooperate with the United States to maintain security in the Indo-Pacific region.
       Japan and India have historically felt intimacy with each other, shared the values of freedom, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, have common political, economic and security interests and can expand bilateral cooperation.
       The report urges the Japanese government to ease restrictions on arms and defense technology exports and international joint arms development and production in regard to India and promote civil nuclear cooperation and cyber security collaboration with India. It also notes that Japan will have to amend its constitution to launch full-fledged military cooperation with India.


Difference over U.S. and Russia
       The JINF and the VIF have differed over some points, reflecting differences between Japanese and Indian political positions. One of the differences is on how to deal with the United States. India remembers that the United States supported China and Pakistan conflicting with India in the Cold War era when India belonged to the pro-Soviet bloc. The past position has left India uncertain about how far the United States would support India when India conflicts with China or Pakistan. Japan for its part will have to maintain its alliance with the United States as the linchpin to its national security even if Japan is to deepen security cooperation with India. Japan and India also differ over how to deal with Russia. As far as the Japan-Russia territorial dispute over the Northern Territories remains unresolved, Japan will hesitate to include Russia into the Asian Concert.
       Irrespective of these Japan-India differences, it is significant that the JINF-VIF report proposes a framework of comprehensive partnership and cooperation between Japan and India. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been positive about promoting Japan-India cooperation. Before returning to power last December, Abe agreed to be a co-patron of the JINF-VIF joint study along with Purno Sangma, former speaker of Lok Sabha, the House of the People of the Indian Parliament. We, as policy research organizations, would be delighted if the joint JINF-VIF study makes some sort of contribution to enhance Japan-India cooperation in the future.


Yasushi Tomiyama is Senior Fellow and Planning Committee Member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.