With Japan eager to strengthen security ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific in the wake of China’s growing influence in the region, last-minute touches are being given to a consultative framework pact involving the defence and foreign ministers of India and Japan. The agreement will be finalised at the upcoming summit on September 1.
According to sources, if both sides agree to a meeting between PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, India would be the fifth to be part of the “two-plus-two” dialogue mechanism with Japan, now involving the US, Australia, Russia and France.
Both India and Japan are making arrangements to upgrade the existing dialogue mechanism on diplomacy and defence, currently at the vice-ministerial level. The first such meeting was held in New Delhi in July 2010, and the second in Tokyo in October 2012.
Modi and Abe are expected to confirm cooperation in ensuring the safety of sea lanes through exchanges between coast guards, as well as joint exercises between the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy, the source said.
Japan has committed billions of dollars in the upgrade of India’s infrastructure. In the May 2013 joint declaration, Japan agreed to invest heavily in the freight and industrial corridors linking Delhi and Mumbai and extend financial aid for Metro railway projects modelled on the Delhi Metro and high-speed railway (Shi-nkansen) systems between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Though the most important area of cooperation is the conclusion of stalled talks on a civilian nuclear deal, differences remain even as officials from both the countries have been trying to sort them out. The key stumbling blocks from Tokyo’s perspective are India’s refusal to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty and its desire for permission to reprocess spent fuel at planned reactors.
Modi, who was earlier scheduled to depart for Tokyo on August 31 and return on September 3, has now decided to extend his stay there by a day.
India has figured as one of the most attractive destinations for Japanese investments in recent surveys conducted by the Japan External Trade Organization. The number of Japanese companies operating in India is increasing rapidly. From 267 in 2006, the number has increased to around 1,800 in 2013 — more than sixfold in seven years.