Home > Asia-Pacific, Politics > Abe’s New Roadmap for Japan-India Ties

Abe’s New Roadmap for Japan-India Ties

Purnendra Jain writes in Japan Focus:

Japan today is showing extraordinary interest in India and nothing reflects this more strongly than Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to New Delhi in August. Moreover, Abe is the third successive Japanese prime minister to make such a visit and, starting this year, India is the only country with which Japan will conduct annual talks at the prime ministerial level.

Abe hewed to his foreign visits schedule and made a week-long trip to Indonesia, India and Malaysia – beginning 19 August despite political uncertainties in Japan and his weakened position as prime minister following the Liberal Democratic Party’s dismal performance at the July House of Councillors elections. Recognising strategic competition for energy security, Abe signed a bilateral free trade agreement with Indonesia, the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to Japan. In return Japan guaranteed Indonesia liberal access to its markets for a range of Indonesian products including farm produce – rice exempted.

Abe also visited Malaysia on his way back to Japan from India. There he met with Malaysian counterpart Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the two leaders issued a joint statement aiming for further improvement in their already strong bilateral economic, trade and investment ties. In the statement Malaysia offered support for Abe’s “Cool Earth 50 plan”, a proposal that aims to halve global emissions by 2050.

Yet the most important visit was Abe’s stop in India. Long on the periphery of Japan’s Asia vision, the rise of India in Japanese political consciousness reflects a recent and rapid change of vision as Tokyo is keen to engage India in a comprehensive way. Calling it a “paradigm shift”, the Japanese Ambassador to India, Mr Yasukuni Enoki, stated that “the Japan-India partnership is (now) the most important” within the framework of Japan’s Asian diplomacy.

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Categories: Asia-Pacific, Politics
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