Japanese Perspectives on India Japan relations: Blooming to Unleash Asia's Potential

New Delhi | Updated: Mar 21 2014, 00:37am hrs
Japanese People Sharing their perspectives on India Japan relations Convey as a new found interest in each other countries; India Japan relations seem to be attracting many audiences, including Japanese companies, Japanese people towards India; and ASEAN partners. Be it for commercial or for volunteer and cultural activities; there has been significant upsurge of interest on India Japan blooming relations. In this article lets take look how Japanese people view India and India Japan relations. This article is based on conversations with Japanese people who are actively involved in India related work and study; Though generally it is very rare to share their perspectives in a dialogue session, but when it comes to India topic recently there is positive atmosphere in japan and apart from wanting to know more on India; people are willing to share Candid Views and also there is an interest to know, How 2014 election result will turn out for the India Japan relations, in other words will there be change or impact on India Japan relations.

Perspectives on Ever Green India-Japan relations: An Historical foundation

Many Japanese experts actively share their comments on historical foundation for India Japan relations.

The relationship between India and Japan has been peaceful and strong for several decades. Both countries have made best efforts to strengthen the relationship between the countries. When Japanese Prime Minister was made the guest of honor at the Republic Day celebrations in 2014, it reiterated the fact that India persuades a closer relationship with Japan. This has seen an increase in the strengthening of India-Japan relations across various sectors government as well as on-government.

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The engagement between the two countries deepened with the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan that was unveiled in 2007. Buddhism was the main force that connected India and Japan way back from the sixth century. Bodhisena, the Indian monk, went to Japan during the early part of the seventh century to spread Buddhism and spent his remaining life in Japan till 760. A natural sense of affinity between the two Asian nations developed as Indian culture had an impact on the Japanese culture. Due to the strong link of Buddhism between the two countries, there were many travelers between India and Japan. There were scholars from Japan who attended the Nalanda University in India.

The Siddham script is still in Japan, despite it not being used in India. The Indian independence movement saw many leaders associating with Japan Swami Vivekananda, Subash Chandra Bose, Radha Binodh Pal, JRD Tata and Rabindranath Tagore. Throughout the years in history, the two countries have never been adversaries. Unique and mutual respect is seen in the bilateral ties between the two countries cultural, territorial or ideological. The goodwill spirit between the two countries was much visible even after Indian Independence. After the World War II, Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru sent two elephants as a gesture to brighten the spirits of the Japanese children suffering from the aftermath of the war. [Most of the Japanese people remember this gesture even today]

Today, India and Japan are partners in peace, and share a common responsibility of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Asia as well as at the international levels. Both countries are striving to develop closer dialogue and collaboration to promote democracy and development. It has also been agreed that both countries would strengthen cooperation in diverse areas such as disarmament, non-proliferation, energy, environment, security and other strategic efforts.

Perspectives on India Japan enabling Asian regionalization: Diplomacy to overcome Challenges

As known in the recent years there is been a proliferation of regionalization across the world. Asian regionalism has experienced a remarkable transformation in the last five decades. The past decade has seen a number of initiatives and movements, especially with respect to the economy. Asian economy is an important driving force of the international economy featuring some of the fastest-growing economies India, China, Japan and Korea along with other fast-growing countries. Being the two largest democracies in Asia, India and Japan hold strategic significance for the making of Asia. The congregation of both countries will ensure peace, equilibrium and order in Asia. As such, Japan recognizes the laying of the foundation for a strategic partnership with India. Both economies have the required relationship to achieve the objectives and concerns. Both countries share the values of democracy and market economy and have common interests in building the East Asia community. Japan recognizes the rise of India from the perspective of peace and prosperity of international as well as Asia. Since both countries are fast developing economies, it is required to formalize their ambitions in a comprehensive economic partnership agreement. How both countries maximize the tangible benefits depend on both countries complementarities.

The rise of China has been a great concern for both Tokyo and Delhi. The bilateral partnership between both countries will be a concerted effort to hedge against the rising power. Both countries feel that it is best to engage China that infuriating it by a strategy of containment would help in securing peace and stability, in Asia. Post the liberalization reforms of India, Japan considers India as a strong economic partner. The motives of both countries directly or indirectly portray their ambitions in East Asia for sustainability, trade and security.

Perspectives on IndiaJapan Bilateral Trade : Can Improve

Many see that the bilateral relationship between the two countries has become stronger in the last few years. The two countries issued the Japan-India Joint Declaration to establish the global partnership in the 21st century. Being the largest source of foreign direct investment, Japanese companies have made investments of over USD 2.6 billion in India since 1991. India is ranking as the most promising destination for Japanese companies over the long term. Japan has also assisted India in the Delhi Metro project. Both the nations are also discussing the Delhi Mumbai Corridor project, Dedicated Freight Corridor project on Delhi Howrah and Mumbai Delhi routes. Japan is also keen in helping India to establish the Chennai-Bangalore corridor and a dedicated freight project in the south that connects Chennai and Bangalore. Yet another agreement was signed between the two countries in 2008 under which, Japan would provide India a loan of USD 4.5 billion (low-interest) for a railway project between Mumbai and Delhi. This agreement is known to be the largest overseas funding by Japan and demonstrates the growing economic relationship between the two democratic countries. Japan has security pact only with three countries in the world US, Australia and India. Japan became the largest investor in India with an investment of total worth of USD 2.12 billion in 2006. Japan, on the other hand, also acknowledges the presence of Indian minds, which is the backbone of Japans IT industry and reiterates the need for both the nations to work together. Several pacts have been signed easing the visa formalities of both countries, which have fostered increased business exchanges. It has also abolished custom duties on nearly ninety-four percent of trade between the two nations. As per the agreement signed in 2010, tariffs would be removed on about 90 percent of Japans exports to India and 97 percent of Indias exports to Japan. The CEPA agreement between India and Japan signed in 2011 is expected to double the bilateral trade between the two countries to over USD 25 billion by 2014.

Perspectives on Foreign Direct Investment : Should move into SME sector as well

While Japanese companies are still very much active in china ; as a plus one strategy, India market is highly attractive. The cumulative FDI inflows from Japan including equity, re-invested earning and other capital as on November 2013, stands as USD 15.27 billion. The percentage of share of Japan in FDI equity inflows stands at 7.31 percent. Top sectors that attracted FDI equity inflows are Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, Automobile Industry, Services Sector, Metallurgical Industries and Electrical Equipment. It also necessary for Japanese companies to foray into Small and medium enterprises as Tier 2/3 cities to unleash the Indias market potential

Perspectives on Energy security and environmental sustainability

We Japanese always are inclined towards Energy security, the energy security is directly linked to the growth and prosperity of people in the world. Meeting the growing energy demand in a safe and environmentally friendly manner is one of the prime challenges for all the economics across the world. The excess demand for power has led to increased usage of fossil fuels, which is making an adverse impact on the environment. Therefore, efficient use of energy along with renewable sources of energy is very important. Both countries are holding regular dialogues regarding the issues that concern the energy security and global environment that requires continuous and effective action. Both sides have confirmed to strengthen the consumer-producer dialogue on liquefied natural gas and deepen cooperation in energy conservation and renewable energy sectors. The countries have also decided to further disseminate and expand business projects to enhance cooperation in the development of petroleum and natural gas. Both countries recognize the need to promote industrial cooperation and expand bilateral energy cooperation on a commercial basis based on the India-Japan Energy Dialogue. The countries have decided to share information on those sectors that are energy gobblers in the recent years such as steel, cement, machine tools, inverter ACs and transport through the energy efficiency and conservation working group and various research projects. Both countries have confirmed their participation in promoting advanced energy-saving technologies and steps to address the challenges.

Perspectives on Cultural relations: Curry and Bollywood

With peculiar liking for Indian Bollywood movies many Japanese people at once raise their eyebrows upon listening to Indian. For several years, India and Japan have involved in cultural ties as a result of Buddhism that spread from India to Japan. This led to holding of several cultural events in both countries that introduced the countries culture to its people in various ways, such as theater festivals, cultural shows and performances, screening of movies. Both countries have been extending cultural grant aid to universities, cultural faculties, and research institutes to encourage cultural activities. Representatives of both countries regularly exchange views on exchange policies in various fields to promote intellectual exchange that fosters mutual understanding. Infact there has been increased trend in recent years to see Japanese ladies learning Bolly wood dance and other Indian cultural arts , they have been visiting India to learn spend some days and they are back to japan and perform which attracts grater audiences. Indian cuisine is well cherished for years and ages, every home like to cook Indian curry and chai not to forget lassi with many flavors.

Perspectives onMade in Japan Products craze in India.

It is good that Indian people consumer like very much Japanese brand, People are willing to pay more for Japanese products, as the quality is high. People assume that Japanese products will surely work and have durability. The workmanship of Japan is known be of the most superior quality. Quality and customer satisfaction are key to their growth and market penetration. Allowing Suzuki Motor Corporation from Japan to set a joint venture with Maruti Udyog was a great leap by the Indian Government in 1984. It set the stage for development of the entire automobile sector through strategic planning and investments. It also attracted many Japanese automobile manufacturers as well as global car makers to invest in India. Japan gradually penetrated into several sectors of India like electronics, banking industry, food and processing industry, electrical, technology sector, storage solutions, steel and cement, infrastructure, shipping, consulting, manufacturing parts, airlines, metals, plastic, freight, and other sectors.

Keynote: During discussion on the topic, many issues and challenges were also heard in terms for building business in India, However as a conclusion note; Though there was long lull in India Japan bilateral relations, the silence was broken by the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in August 2000, further on it seems no looking back, The interests from both sides are taking new heights only to unleash the potential of both countries in many dimensions. Needless to say; The Japanese Companies foraying into Indian Manufacturing sector means it will nothing but boost India`s Manufacturing sector and employment in the sector. With Japan being a source of capital and commercial technology for India, it is seen as one of the best partner for Indias development.

Junko Nirmalais a Tokyo resident with 15 years of experience in technology and business consulting services mainly focusing on India-Japan Market and cross border related services. Her diverse background even includes a short stint as a Venturepreuner. During the last few years she has helped several Japanese companies with their India market entry strategies. Writer can be reached at junkonirmala@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of theThe Financial Express, or any other entity of theIndian Express Group.