Amid the ongoing global geopolitical churn triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the prime ministers of India and Japan, Asia’s second and third largest economies, will hold their annual summit in New Delhi to bolster their strategic connect in the Indo-Pacific and Quad.
This will be the first visit by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida since he became the prime minister of Japan in November 2021. Kishida’s visit will revive the tradition of annual summit meeting between the leaders of India and Japan, which was disrupted due to Covid-19 pandemic, Deepa Wadhwa, a former ambassador of India to Japan, told India Writes Network.
The last in-person, 13th annual summit was held in 2018 when Prime Minister Modi visited Japan.
The visit will a high moment in celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan this year and will deepen special strategic and global partnership against the backdrop of China’s assertiveness in the region.
PM Kishida’s visit to Delhi will last barely eighteen hours, but the talks in New Delhi will provide a fresh impetus to this multi-layered partnership between Asia’s leading democracies.
The talks between PM Modi and PM Kishida will focus on forging an ambitious and substantive agenda for the second in-person Quad summit, to be hosted by Japan in May-June. The two leaders are expected to join hands in buttressing the Quad’s position as the keeper of the rules-based world order in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The two leaders are expected to focus on more constructive aspects of intra-Quad cooperation in areas such as humanitarian and disaster relief, supply chains, clean energy and connectivity. PM Modi is expected to underline that India is committed to delivering the first batch of vaccines being manufactured at Biological E facility in the country by May-June. The roll-out of Quad-partnered anti-corona vaccines under the Quad Vaccine Partnership by the first half of 2022 will be one of major highlights of the Quad summit in Tokyo.
In geopolitical sense, Kishida’s visit will be very significant as it comes at a time when the Russia-China axis is becoming more prominent in the post-Ukraine regional landscape. The post-war Ukraine situation will figure prominently in discussions, and could see some divergence in approach. India has refused to condemn the Russian invasion and has abstained eight times on resolutions in UN and UN-related agencies on the issue. In the New Delhi meeting with PM Kishida, PM Modi is expected to explain India’s position and compulsions that prevent it from taking black-and-white position on the Ukraine issue. But both leaders are expected to take a big-picture view and will find the middle ground to prevent the Ukraine invasion from becoming a contentious issue in their relations.
One of important outcomes of the summit talks between PM Modi and PM Kishida will be intensification of Japanese investment in India’s strategically located Northeast region, a gateway to ASEAN. “Japan is the sole welcome foreign investor in Northeast. One can expect more Japanese investment in promoting infrastructure, connectivity and entrepreneurship in Northeast states,” said Amb. Deepa Wadhwa. Looking ahead, Ms Wadhwa identified start-ups, skill development and partnership in third countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia as major focus areas for action in India-Japan partnership. In the IT engineering and digital space, there is so much scope for enhancing India-Japan cooperation, said Ms Wadhwa.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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