Related Topics


JAN 20

Mains   > International relations   >   India and Global Powers   >   India-Japan


  • Japan will provide 30 billion yen (over Rs 2,100 crore) as loan to India to fight the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
  • India and Japan recently signed an agreement to boost the mobility of skilled Indian workers in 14 fields, including nursing, industrial machinery, shipbuilding, aviation, agriculture and the food services industry.


  • Exchange between Japan and India is said to have begun in the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan.
  • Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations on in 1952. This treaty was one of the first peace treaties Japan signed after World War II.
  • Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have enjoyed cordial relations.


  • Economic assistance: India has been the largest recipient of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loan for the past decades. Delhi Metro is one of the most successful examples of Japanese cooperation.
  • Trade relations: India was the 21st largest trading partner for Japan, and Japan was the 12th largest trading partner for India in 2019. India's primary imports from Japan are machinery, electrical machinery and parts of motor vehicles. Exports include petroleum products, chemicals, fish, metalliferous ores and textile yarn.
  • Commercial relations: Japan was the 4th largest investor for India in FY2019. Japanese private-sector's interest in India is rising, and, currently, about 1,454 Japanese companies have branches in India.
  • Connectivity: Within India, Japan is supporting the development of major projects like Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor and Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project. Outside India, Japan and India are collaborating on enhancing connectivity along South and South East Asia.
  • Energy: India has a civil nuclear deal with Japan, which provides for the development of nuclear power projects in India. They also cooperate in areas like supply of electricity and renewable energy.
  • Defence: India and Japan defence forces organize several bilateral exercises namely, JIMEX, SHINYUU Maitri, and Dharma Guardian. They also participate in Malabar exercise with USA.
  • Strategic: Japan is prospecting the development of Asia Africa growth corridor and the idea of Quad, involving India, USA and Australia, to counter china’s aggressive strategies. Japan also investing in India’s rare earth mineral explorations to overcome its severe import dependency on China.
  • Cultural: Today, Yoga is very popular in Japan.  Also, there are agreements to promote bilateral partnership in Indian traditional medicinal systems like Ayurveda.   
  • Technology and manpower: Bilateral S&T cooperation began in 1993 with the establishment of the India-Japan Science Council (IJSC). Today they cooperate in areas of in the areas of skill enhancement, Material Sciences, Healthcare, Methane Hydrate, Robotics, Peaceful uses of Outer Space etc.


  • Countering China: Japan has the resources- financial, technological and diplomatic- to counter China’s monopolistic growth. The recurring tensions in South China sea also demand Japan to have close relations with a strong naval ally like India.  
  • Development of North East: Japan has decided to invest an amount Rs.13,000 crore in several ongoing as well as new projects in different states of India's North- Eastern region. This will be vital for the region’s development.
  • Success of India’s Asian ambitions: Japan cooperates in supporting strategic connectivity linking South Asia to Southeast Asia through the synergy between Act East policy and Partnership for Quality Infrastructure.
  • Infrastructural development: Japan is actively exporting its technology under Partnership for Quality Infrastructure. Given its large market, demography and growth potential, India stands to reap the most from this.
  • Maritime cooperation: Maritime security is an important subject on which both India and Japan have convergent interests. Both countries depend critically on sea- borne trade for sustaining their economies.
  • Export of workforce and import of tech: Japan has the oldest median age of population (Almost a third of its population is over 65) in the world, but has technological superiority. India has a young population but is technologically deficient. Hence, technology-manpower exchanges will benefit both nations equally.  
  • For success of Indian efforts: Japan is a major manufacturing hub and has extended its support to the Make in India initiative. Also, with the Pandemic triggering an exodus of Japanese industries from China, India stands to gain.
  • Maintain global order: Both nations share several common ideals like democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, which are vital in a rapidly deglobalizing world.
  • Climatic vulnerabilities: Both countries are acutely vulnerable to climate change impacts and hence require synergised actions at the global and bilateral level.


  • China’s dominance: Though they share a complicated relationship, China is Japan’s largest trading partner and Japan is China's third-largest trading partner. On comparison, India-Japan trade relations are sub-optimal.
  • India’s RCEP exit: With India no longer in the mix, RCEP has become a significantly weak bloc. Hence, Tokyo faces a major conundrum with the free trade agreement.
  • Future of Nuclear energy: Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, there has been a global aversion towards nuclear power and this is dominant in Japan itself. This has been a major impediment in the full realisation of the Indo-japan civil nuclear deal.
  • COVID-19 crisis: The pandemic has strained the economies of all countries’, which is inhibiting cordial expansion of relations.
  • Slow progress: The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) was announced in 2017. However, the actual progress has been slow. This is questioning its relevance as a counterweight to Belt and Road initiative.


  • Expand economic ties: India offers a sound manufacturing base and market for Japanese. India should leverage this opportunity by looking at what India’s competitors such as ASEAN countries are doing to attract Japanese investment and attract investments through strong infrastructure and efficient regulatory systems.
  • Energy cooperation: India’s energy demands and imports are increasing and Japan, post-Fukushima, is heavily reliant on imported energy.
  • Long term climate plan: Both countries are acutely vulnerable to climate change impacts. Hence, long-term energy strategy necessitates a shift towards actions that limit their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Enhance People to people cooperation: Diaspora has been a major tool in India’s soft power diplomacy. But the true potential of India’s relatively small Japanese diaspora remains under-utilised and should be explored.


Q. Amidst the pandemic and global turmoil, attaining the true potential of India-Japan relationship is essential for maintaining stability and security of the Indo-Pacific region. Examine?

Related Topics