India’s Northeast is developing and getting close to its goal of being part of the Indian mainstream in connectivity and business – which is also critical for the success of India’s Act East Policy. For both goals, Bangladesh and Japan are invaluable partners and friends. The troika’s collaboration can be a model in the region.
The Edo era in Japan adopted the Buddhist worldview that placed India at the center of the human world. This was reflected in their maps, till the mid-19th century. The geopolitical context of these spiritual maps wielded a profound influence on Japan’s Buddhist clergy and its laity, a world view that echoes the present.
The Ukraine crisis transferred global anxiety away from China and onto Russia. But this has not happened in the Indo-Pacific, where the Quad countries have followed a policy of economic disengagement from China, in the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the regeneration of some economies. How the Quad managed this, is a worthwhile assessment.
Japan’s recently released National Security Strategy document has pathbreaking commitments to strengthen Japan militarily. It reflects a dramatic change over the last decade, when the national threat for pacifist Japan was largely China. Now North Korea and Russia are included, and a Japan with superior defence capabilities will play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific.
Indonesia has managed its G20 Presidency year by understanding the importance of not going it alone. This trading nation has used its deep regional and multilateral cooperative processes which provided trusted back-up and support at every step, and was book-ended by strong linkages and investment partnerships with Japan and Australia. In this, it has laid the groundwork for India’s 2023 presidency.
The Japan-Africa partnership continues to be emphasised. The goal is to build human capital, sustainable and high-quality growth and the security and stability of the global order in which government, business, and civil society leaders participate on an equal basis. It is an opportunity for Indian companies to work together in Africa, to achieve bilateral goals.
India’s technology industry grew 15.5% during the pandemic, and so have the cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure and stealing of intellectual property (IP). While an exhaustive data protection bill introduced by MeitY is under consideration, India must study and can benefit from Japan’s existing data protection law to protect consumer privacy and implement cybersecurity measures.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s legacy is marked by statesmanship and foresight, enabling him to reform the security and economic architecture of Asia, Japan and India. His historic 2007 speech in the Indian Parliament gave shape to the idea of the Indo-Pacific, and the Quad. Abe had faith in India, recognising the opportunities India and Japan offered each other.
Japan is going ahead with hosting the Tokyo Olympics, despite the pandemic, several delays and few economic or social benefits to come. It’s not entirely Japan’s choice – the International Olympic Committee is the owner of the Games, and its financial considerations matter.
China’s escalating actions in the wake of the COVID-19 catastrophe is a calculated strategic diversion and risk. In the Indo-Pacific, tensions between China and the U.S., Australia, India and others are building momentum. As a geopolitical partnership, the relevance of the Quad is now proven. There are clear ways to empower it immediately, and make it a resilient grouping.