Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Ahmedabad (Source: PTI)

India-Japan Ties: Beyond The Photo Op

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Ahmedabad on Wednesday at the start of a two-day visit to to India, during which he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold bilateral talks aimed at bolstering economic and strategic ties.

The centrepiece of the Abe visit will be laying of the foundation stone on Thursday for India’s first high-speed bullet train, connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad. But improving the trade relationships and boosting ties in the area of defence are also critical, with the summit coming at a time when geopolitical tensions around the world are on the rise. According to Shobana Kamineni, president of industry body CII, Japan’s partnership with India could be ‘the’ partnership of the century for Japan.

They (Japan) don’t get into countries and really invest unless the whole economic landscape is very clearly defined in front of them. They are keen to work with India and they realise that this is ‘the’ partnership of the century possibly, for them.
Shobana Kamineni, President, CII

For two countries that have always shared strong ties historically. trade volumes over the last few years have declined. Overall trade volume between India and Japan shows a decline of nearly 25 percent between 2012 and 2016.

While India’s imports to Japan in that period dropped by a little less than 21 percent, bulk of the decline was seen in 2012-13. The import numbers have since neutralised. Indian exports to Japan declined by nearly 33 percent between 2012 and 2016.

Kamineni expects the trade ties to improve in the coming years with the strongest partnerships likely to be forged in the automotive, railways and infrastructure sectors. The Modi government’s ‘Make In India’ initiative will further strengthen these partnerships, she added.

The bullet train project will benefit India given that the route is among the busiest and has potential to improve commerce in the corridor, the CII president said.

India has great opportunities in the railways space, not just the bullet train but even the trade corridors. We have opportunities in defence but more than that, there’s so much India’s going to be spending on in infrastructure, whether it’s roads, whether it’s ports.
Shobana Kamineni, President, CII
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