‘India-Japan Partnership in an Uncertain Era’; Visit of Japan Institute for National Fundamental (JINF) Delegation to the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), New Delhi, 06 Feb 2019
Welcome Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF

Excellency Madam Ms Yoshiko Sakurai, Members of the Japanese delegation,

Members of the Indian delegation, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to extend a hearty welcome to the esteemed delegation from Japan Institute of National Fundamental (JINF). The VIF and JINF have had regular contacts over the years. We met in VIF in 2015 and again in Tokyo in 2018. These contacts have helped us strengthen intuitional ties and develop better understanding of each other perceptions on global, regional and bilateral issues.

The development of strategic relationship between India and Japan in the last few years is of great global and regional significance at a time when the post-second world war world order is changing and a new world order, based on multi-polarity is beginning to take shape. However, the shape of the future order is not clear. Both India and Japan, who have similar strategic objectives, and common values of democracy, are working together in bringing about a rule-based order. VIF and JINF need to discuss the prospects of the features of an emerging world order more closely.

In particular, both sides need to develop and understand the impact of the rise of China on global and regional situation. In recent years, China has not only emerged as the second largest economy in the world but also the second largest military spender. Although it talks about a harmonious world, its emphasizes on ‘China Dream’ and a ‘new type of great power relationship’ creates many apprehensions. Its neighbourhood policy is also troubling in the light of Doklam and South China Sea episodes.

China’s rise is happening at a time when the US is getting increasingly focused on domestic issues. President Trump’s ‘America First’ policy and has had a visible impact on the traditional American policies. Without waiting for a political settlement of the Syria question, the US has decided to quit. Likewise, in Afghanistan, the US is in a hurry to leave and is desperately wooing Taliban for a settlement. A hurried compromise with the Taliban has the potential of derailing the gains made in the last 17 years as well as emboldening the Taliban to pursue their fundamentalist agenda. This could prove to be destabilizing for the world. Pakistan, whom President Trump at one point of the time accused of harboring terrorism, is back in the US reckoning thanks to President Trump’s decision to leave Afghanistan as early as possible. President Trump is also cold towards Europe. Its footprint in the Middle-East is shrinking. Today its influence in Central Asia is minimal.

US and China are embroiled in a trade war which can engulf the entire world. China is feeling the heat, knowingly well that a disruption of global economy will have negative consequences for its own rise. The outcome of the ongoing trade negotiations between the two countries on trade issues is not yet certain. This presents an opportunity for both India and Japan. India is a large and growing economy. It has vast market potential. India and Japan should look for opportunity in the context of US-China trade war.

India and Japan are contributing to the further development of the concept of Indo-Pacific which was originally mooted by PM Abe. Defence and security cooperation between India and Japan is deepening. This has had a positive impact on the regional security environment which has changed significantly in the last few years due to China’s assertive moves, the modernization of PLA and the enunciation of the concept of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The need of the hour is to strengthen India-Japan security and defence ties. In particular, India and Japan can collaborate in hi-tech defence manufacturing.

India-Japan relationship is becoming strategic and now covers a vast swathe of cooperation. India-Japan Vision Statement of 29th Oct 2018 recognized the “unparalleled potential for development of relations between the two countries”. However, both side needs to make vigorous efforts to realize this potential. We need to strengthen economic relationship and accelerate trade and investment decisions. Our two countries are among the leading countries in science and technology arena. India looks forward to deepening cooperation in hi-tech areas in emerging technologies including Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, cyber security etc. What is even more important is the cooperation in strengthening innovation eco-system in India. With India emerging as a hub of innovation, India and Japan can strengthen their cooperation in the field of innovation.

Both India and Japan are ancient civilizations with developed culture. India-Japan ‘Samvad’ dialogue, launched by PM Modi and PM Abe in 2015 is a laudable initiative towards bringing fresh thinking on contemporary issues by tapping into the wisdom in Hindu and Buddhist civilizations. The Vision Statement of 2018 made a special mention of the Samvad series of dialogues which focuses on the long history of academic, spiritual and scholarly exchanges between the two countries. The common vision of India-Japan partnership should be based on our common cultural values. It is a matter of satisfaction that the two countries have agreed to work together on traditional medicine, including Ayurveda and Yoga.

VIF and JINF are guided by their national interests, culture and history. Your visit will pave the way for further deepening of research in these areas.

Thank you.

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