Japan Roundtable, November 30, 2010
The Japan Project at ICRIER organized a roundtable discussion on the theme "India-Japan Relations after Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's Recent Visit to Tokyo" on 30th November. The guest speaker was Mr. Naoki Ito, (Minister (Political) Embassy of Japan, New Delhi and the two lead discussants were Dr. Srabani Roy Choudhuri, Associate Professor, JNU, and Dr. Rajaram Panda, Senior Fellow, IDSA. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Arjun Asrani, Former Ambassador to Tokyo.
The discussion focus was on the Fifth Annual Summit between the Prime Ministers of India and Japan held in October this year where the Joint Statement “Vision for India- Japan Strategic and Global Partnership in the Next Decade” was released.
Mr. Ito emphasized the significance of the successful conclusion of the India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and suggested that this was a reflection of the strong political will in Japan to enhance economic cooperation with India. According to him the CEPA would put an end to all speculation in India with regard to the importance of India in the international agenda of the DPJ government that came to power in Japan in mid 2009. Mr. Ito was of the opinion that the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement currently under negotiation between the two countries would be the next ‘game changer’ in India-Japan relations.
Dr. Srabani Roy Choudhuri, put across the point that China’s economic clout is growing in the region, was the driving Japan’s efforts to enhance economic cooperation with India. The particular example she emphasized was the recent issue of rare earths that had caused friction between Japan and China and soon enough the India-Japan Joint Statement in October 2010 explicitly mentioned that “the two Prime Ministers decided to explore the possibility of bilateral cooperation in development, re-cycling and re-use of rare earths and rare metals and in research and development of their industrial substitutes.” Dr. Rajaram Panda stressed the need to speedily conclude the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. He pointed out that the economic benefits to both nations would be immense.
The floor discussion also focused on the importance of CEPA and civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries. One significant proposal that found resonance among all participants was the need for the Indian policy establishment to put into place a policy mechanism that can coordinate economic cooperation with Japan in a holistic manner incorporating aid, trade and investment. It was felt that such a policy mechanism was necessary to ensure maximization of benefits from economic cooperation with Japan.