The contrast could not have been starker. At a time when Pakistan is grappling with a massive internal strife and is heading towards either another military coup or total anarchy, the meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Japanese Premiere Shinzo Abe is crucial.
The meeting reflected the warmth and deep ties that exists not just between the second and the third largest economies of Asia but also among the two civilizational nations with deep rooted and shared cultural and religious bondage, proof enough that India belongs to a different league.
The visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Japan may seem like another routine visit by an Indian Prime Minister to another country. But this visit holds lot of significance especially against the backdrop of worsening geopolitical situation in the Middle East. Another significance of the meeting is the strong possibilities of India and Japan taking their relationship into altogether a new level of strategic dimension both in the realms of defence and business tie-ups.
The re-emergence of Japan
In a sense Japan is gradually coming out of the shackles, especially in areas of defense, it had voluntarily kept itself in for the last several decades since the end of the Second World War. The rising intransigence of China and its military coercion has forced Japan to shed its pacifist nature and give a greater thrust to militarization. For both India and Japan, the common concerns remain the same with respect to the rising arrogance of China and its tendency to settle issues entirely on its own terms.
In a sense Japan is gradually coming out of the shackles, especially in defense
However, the issue of China is just one factor. Over the next one decade or so, India is expected to spend around $150 billion on defence procurement and Japan can gradually become a key partner in this sphere as well subject to certain possible changes in Japanese policies regarding sale of weapons. However, the possible sale of 15 US-2 amphibious aircrafts to Indian Navy by Japan's ShinMaywa Industries may open an altogether new area for cooperation between India and Japan.
Why Japan is one of the best bets for Modi...
Nevertheless the area where cooperation can be at the highest level would be in the area of commercial investments. There is no doubt that Japanese companies have been some of the earliest as well as among the most successful foreign investors in India and Indo-Japanese business ventures have traditionally been very successful.
With Modi Government seeking massive investments over the next five years to create 100 new smart cities, upgrade infrastructures with investments in new ports, introduce bullet trains and reform railways, improve level of governance and make the proposed industrial corridors and clusters successful, Japan is perhaps one of the most important countries that is in a position to invest as also in improving issues of economic efficiency.
The internal economic dynamics of Japanese economy are such that there are limited scopes of investments there and yet Japanese companies as well as the Japanese Government is flush with funds for investments for which they need a viable market. Needless to say that India, in spite of being the 3rd largest economy of Asia and 10th largest in the world in terms of nominal GDP, the potential of the Indian economy is yet to reach its culmination.
India's need for massive investments to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars to shore up its infrastructure, boost manufacturing, improve productivity and increase the rate of GDP growth rate can ideally have Japan as one of the best bets as a key investor.
Japan and India's Look East Policy- Shared Collaboration at its best
For quite some time, India has been contemplating to take forward its ‘Look East Policy' in order to strengthen relation with other Asian countries especially in East Asia and also reduce the dependence on the West. From that perspective as well, Japan holds a very critical position.
The other key areas of significant cooperation include that of education and research as well as expanding horizons of shared values like that of Buddhism and Hinduism. The class of Japanese education and their excellence in the area of fundamental research in incomparable. Collaboration between Japanese and Indian Universities can be a major area of progress.
Further, in an era when religious intolerance and religious wars are imploding Middle East and is threatening the rest of the world as well, the advancement of the shared values of Buddhism that is the common thread between India and Japan, can show a different path of peace, tranquility and prosperity.
Overall one can state with impunity that among the foreign visits that Modi had till now, the visit to Japan is perhaps the most significant. Japan is perhaps the ideal nation which can become one of the most trusted allies of India and a major contributor to the Indian economy through investments. If nurtured well, this relationship can only be win-win for India.