NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida will hold talks in the national capital on Monday during which both leaders are expected to discuss developments related to the Indo-Pacific region, including increasing Chinese military assertiveness and Japanese development assistance to India in several sectors. Mr Kishida will reach New Delhi on Monday morning and return on Tuesday morning.
During the meeting, both the Prime Ministers are expected to discuss bilateral ties in a wide range of areas, covering defence and security, trade and investment, science and technology, education, healthcare and critical and emerging technologies.
The meeting between the two Prime Ministers is being held at a time when India and Japan are holding the presidencies of the G-20 and G7, respectively. The visit of the Japanese PM is expected to give both countries an opportunity to cooperate and discuss how the G-20 and G7 can work together on critical global issues, including food and health security, energy transitions and economic security.
It may be noted that India and Japan share a special strategic and global partnership. Bilateral ties were elevated to “global partnership” in 2000, “strategic and global partnership” in 2006 and “special strategic and global partnership” in 2014. Japan is a close partner with which India has both an annual summit and a 2+2 foreign and defence ministerial meeting.
Last year, Mr Modi met the Japanese PM thrice — Mr Kishida visited India for the 14th annual summit in March, Mr Modi visited Tokyo in May for the Quad Summit and he visited Tokyo again in September for the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The foreign ministers of both nations had also recently decided to ramp up bilateral defence ties. It may be noted that defence and security cooperation has emerged as one of the most important pillars of the bilateral special strategic and global partnership and an important factor in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to observers, the successful conduct of the first fighter aircraft exercise “Veer Guardian” in January 2023 in Japan between the two countries was a significant milestone and was followed closely by the fourth “Dharma Guardian” army exercise, which was conducted for the first time in Japan.
Maritime security cooperation, including Navy-to-Navy cooperation, has seen significant progress with a large number of exercises being conducted. In November last year, India took part in the international fleet review in Japan and the Malabar exercise off the coast of Japan. This was preceded by the JIMEX between our two navies in September. Both nations are also making steady progress under the Defence Equipment and Technology Agreement signed in 2015.
So far as commercial and economic ties are concerned, the bilateral trade stood at $20.75 billion last year, which was the largest ever. The two nations have set up Japan Industrial Townships (JITs) to promote economic partnership, investment, industry and infrastructure development. There are currently 11 functioning JITs spread across eight states.
India and Japan have had a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement since 2011. The agreement covers not only trade in goods but also services, movement of natural persons, investments, intellectual property rights, customs procedures and other trade-related issues. Both nations also have an industrial competitiveness partnership under which both countries are cooperating to promote industrial cooperation between the two countries.
India and Japan have signed memorandums of cooperation on the Technical Intern Training Program and Specified Skilled Worker.
The two countries had also launched a clean energy partnership during the annual summit held last year. It aims to promote energy cooperation through diverse and realistic energy transitions utilizing all energy sources and technologies to ensure energy security, carbon neutrality and economic growth.