NEW DELHI: As Japan steps into a new chapter with Suga Yoshihide taking over as prime minister from Shinzo Abe, India will have to change the template of its approach to its closest strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific.
Releasing a Japan-India document by FICCI on Friday evening, foreign minister S Jaishankar said Japan is the only country with which India holds an annual summit and a 2+2 meeting at the highest levels of the government. Both countries are now working together on global and regional issues, deepening cooperation in defence and security, and shaping the new policy of the Indo-Pacific.
Yet, with a cautionary note, he said, India should adopt a “more ambitious approach to Japanese business.”
This has become much more important as the Suga government takes shape. For too long, the heavy lifting of the India-Japan relationship has been done by Shinzo Abe and his personal friendship with prime minister Modi.
That could change. If India has to maintain the pace and depth of the Japan relationship, in many ways, the onus will be on New Delhi, to think bolder.
Jaishankar said today India and Japan were key to the rebalancing of Asia, because of the “seamlessness” of the Pacific and Indian oceans. “We are now working together in third countries. We have started work in Sri Lanka.” India and Japan are now cooperating in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
“We want to work with Japan in Russias Far East and in the Pacific island countries,” he said.
Suga has come to power as a unique non-factional politician, unusual in Japans faction-ridden politics. To an extent, he is a consensus candidate, supported by and large by all factions, though, due to his close association with Abe, is closest in ideology and politics to the Abe faction.
But his government includes key men from different factions as Suga attempts to build a sort of “unity” government.
Japans foreign and defence policies under Suga may largely stay the same — Toshemitsu Motegi will remain foreign minister and Abes younger brother Nobuo Kishi holds the crucial defence portfolio, signifying continuity for Japans international partners like US and India. Keen watchers of Japan say Abe has not actually exited, and will retain influence on both these portfolios.
However, Suga may take a slightly more moderate approach to China, something that will be watched carefully in New Delhi and Washington. The first leader to endorse Suga was Toshihiro Nikai, who is now the Secretary General of the LDP. He takes a more benign view of both China and the CCP. In addition, as sources see it, Suga hails from Yokohama, with a strong Chinese trader population, who are also influential. Therefore while his defence policies may be run by a China hawk, he may temper it in other areas.
Suga has not involved himself with foreign policy, like Abe did. In fact, as analysts see it, he will approach foreign policy through the domestic prism. For India, therefore, it will be important to respRead More – Source