What Abe's Return Means for India-Japan Ties
Image Credit: Office of the Prime Minister: India

What Abe's Return Means for India-Japan Ties

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In 2006 Abe Shinzo, appointed again last week as leader of the ​Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan’s main opposition party, wrote; “It will not be a surprise if in another decade, Japan-India relations overtake Japan-U.S. and Japan-China ties.” Such a prediction now, as it was then, is improbable, but the prospect of Abe assuming Japan’s top office could have a dramatic impact on Japan-India ties.

In Japan, the decision on September 26th by the LDP to reappoint Abe as their leader brought widespread bewilderment. Abe’s sudden resignation due to illness as well as political weakness in 2007 led many to believe his effort futile. Yet in India, Abe remains a well-respected and popular figure. During his time as Prime Minister (2006-2007) Indian commentators described Abe as young and energetic – Japan’s “Rajiv Gandhi.”

Unlike his predecessor, Koizumi Junichiro, Asia rather than America shaped Abe’s foreign policy. Highly influenced by his grandfather, former Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, who had fond memories of visiting India in 1957, Abe was encouraged to widen Japan’s traditional conception of the region and create a “broader Asia” which included India. In 2006 as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Abe described Indo-Japanese relations in Utsukushii Kuni E (Towards a Beautiful Country) as “the most important bilateral relationship in the world.”

Japan-India relations have developed significantly since their nadir in the late 1990′s. Opposing views on the possession of nuclear weapons following India testing in 1998 divided the two, as Tokyo imposed uncharacteristically severe sanctions on Delhi. However, as India’s economy has grown following the consolidation of liberalization reforms, and China’s influence has risen in tandem, India once again has entered Japan’s diplomatic radar.

China was never far from Abe foreign policy’s focus and through “shared values” rhetoric, the India relationship became framed around the “Quad” initiative between the U.S., Japan, Australia and India. Support for the “Quad” gradually fizzled due to concerns over alienating Beijing, as Abe’s own political power waned.

Since then, relations have centered on economic ties. Japanese businesses have, albeit slowly, grown to appreciate the potential of the Indian market, with its growing middle class and vast potential for infrastructure development. The prospect of India one day serving as an export hub to Africa and the Middle East also remains in corporate minds.

Furthermore, just as in 2005 when violent anti-Japanese riots spread across China, encouraging Japanese firms to diversify their business models, the recent flare-ups over the Senkakus/Diaoyu Islands may have a similar effect. India remains a challenging market but with companies such as Toyota and Nissan temporarily scaling back production in China in anticipation of reduced sales, alternative strategies will emerge.

Comments
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Anthon
October 30, 2012 at 22:05

Another hoax and that is what actually sells. The heading is interesting. Yes fear the next china might take a little bit longer and next in line India. Then comes Brazil. Sure then we need to fear because South Africa will have the crisis. So what America had been there was that one possibly avoided or the europe? No. because all these countries funded with debt and this is sure to continue since the governments actually instead of backing the people and their confidence funds the debt. What I truly feel is governments again need to bring in QE and these should directly goes towards the mortgages and when they are secure no one will withdraw the money and banks will be stable people will be happier and crises are faraway thing. But everyone scared by people. Its a hard job to help people but I think the governments are there for that to guide, manage and govern the market. Rest has to be done by the market. Banks are not markets but they are the market tools and people's, business and its loans are the market. We need to change the way we understood the system. Bringing confidence to the system in a alternative world. 
Economists might disagree but true ownership belongs to people and not the banking system but they are the facilitators. Facilitators doesnt run market but they lend or fund for profit. So any crises need to mitigated with the people.

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