Indo-Japan cooperation

The Joint Statement issued after the two-day meeting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi brings out the contours of a policy in which the two countries will try to increase connectivity, increase cooperation in developing defence equipment and technology and aim at ‘further extension’ of joint naval exercises. Both countries have unequivocally condemned the recent nuclear and missile tests by North Korea and significantly, without naming China or Pakistan, have held accountable “all parties that have supported North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.” Similarly, without naming Pakistan, the statement has named “Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Toiba and their affiliates” as terrorist outfits along with al Qaeda and ISIS. All in all, the joint statement underlines the success of India’s diplomacy.
Taking into account China’s move on the Belt and Road Initiative the two countries have decided to enhance connectivity of India with “other countries in the Indo-Pacific region including Africa”. Reading between the lines one gets an idea of widening the field of mutual cooperation of the countries of Asia and Africa. The statement affirmed the two countries’ “strong commitment” to achieve “a free, open and prosperous Indo-pacific region where sovereignty and international law are respected and differences are resolved through dialogue” and “every country enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight” – an allusion to the South China Sea problem.
Strong economic cooperation facilitates cooperation in the field of defence also as without a strong economy and a strong industrial base, no country can acquire the strength to defend itself. In the present situation, most countries in Asia, barring Pakistan and China, are feeling threatened by an increasingly assertive China which makes unilateral claims of suzerainty over lands and seas and proceeds to reinforce its claim with its military might. This has changed the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region and calls for joint efforts at containing an aggressive and expansionist China. Doklam has proved that China can be made to blink if it realizes that force or threat of use of force will not allow it to ride roughshod over others. Ensuring the right to navigation through the South China Sea is vital. China has ignored the verdict of the International Court of Justice on South China Sea with impunity and contempt. It is only the united stand and resolve of India, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, etc, that can deter China. Both India and Japan have to play a vital role in building this unity.

Saturday, 16 September, 2017