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India 'indispensable' to achieve free, open Indo-Pacific: Japan FM Hayashi

India is an "indispensable" partner in achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific and Japan intends to deepen cooperation with New Delhi in all areas

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Complimenting India's focus on the Global South, he said the call for upholding the free and rules-based international order may sound like a mere slogan (Photo: Unsplash.com)

Press Trust of India New Delhi
India is an "indispensable" partner in achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific and Japan intends to deepen cooperation with New Delhi in all areas to expand the special strategic and global partnership between the two sides, Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Friday.
Complimenting India's focus on the Global South, he said the call for upholding the free and rules-based international order may sound like a mere slogan unless there was adequate commitment to address the challenges facing the developing countries.
The Japanese foreign minister was speaking at the India-Japan Forum, convened by Ananta Centre and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
In his remarks at the event, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar elaborated on Japan's support to various sectors in India and identified the semiconductor sector as one of the potential areas for cooperation.
"I think Japan has truly unleashed a number of revolutions in this country. There is the Maruti revolution where it wasn't just the Suzuki car coming in, it wasn't only about a car coming in, it was a way actually for the entire lifestyle, it was a thinking, it was an industrial culture which got changed," he said.
"The second revolution was the metro revolution. I think it's had a very profound impact on the urban infrastructure of India," Jaishankar said.
"The third revolution is in the making, which is the high-speed rail. So I think when we complete that project, people will see in India what an enormous ripple impact it has," he said, referring to the bullet train project that would link Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
The fourth revolution, Jaishankar said, would be the cooperation in emerging and critical technologies and the semiconductor sphere.
"I do believe that there is a huge potential for us to work on. And if you put them all cumulatively, I think Japan's had a very powerful impact actually on manufacturing in India, on our urbanisation process, on the organisation of logistics in this country," he said.
In responding to a question on the threat of terrorism, Jaishankar said it is important to address the "root causes and root countries' '.
To another query on India's options to collaborate with Japan in case of a possible war in the Taiwan Strait as the strength of the partnership will be tested in such a difficult time, Jaishankar said he disagreed with the question.
"I think it is actually peacetime cooperation which is when you are tested because if you do not work everyday to build a relationship and to put in place capabilities and comfort and structures, then when something more severe comes...If I cannot handle a good day, how will I handle a difficult day," he said.
"I would say, for us, really the challenge is that we work everyday in every possible way to strengthen our cooperation -- whether it is in economics, whether it is supply chains, whether it is digital domain, critical technologies and also maritime security," Jaishankar said.
"If you do all of this, I would say you are contributing to the strengthening of peace, stability and security. So many of the worst fears do not happen if you actually work ahead of it," he added.
Asked what kind of support Japan would extend to India in case of a conflict in the Indo-Pacific or at the India-China border, Hayashi referred to increasing engagement between Tokyo and New Delhi in the defence domain and suggested that such a cooperation will help in dealing with any possible future challenge.
In his opening remarks, Hayashi said there has been progress on India-Japan initiatives in new sectors such as cyber and space, adding discussions toward the realisation of "substantial cooperation" in the areas of defence equipment and technology are underway.
"At a time when there are many pressing challenges including Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Japan and India fully share the necessity to lead the world to cooperation, rather than to division and confrontation," Hayashi said in presence of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
"The free and open international order based on the rule of law is the key to realising such a world," he said, in comments that came against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China's growing military muscle-flexing in the Indo-Pacific.
Elaborating on the concept, Hayashi said "free" means each country is free to make decisions based on its own sovereignty and "open" means respect for principles including inclusiveness, openness, and diversity.
"It is vital that we refrain from imposing values or excluding certain countries. This concept is especially crucial for smaller countries. In coordination with India, Japan intends to materialize such a concept through realising a 'Free and Open Indo-Pacific' or FOIP," he said.
In March this year, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Tokyo's new plan for FOIP in New Delhi.
"This fact itself is a reflection of the critical importance Japan places on India, as your nation is an indispensable partner in achieving FOIP, a Free and Open Indo-Pacific," Hayashi said.
Referring to the G7 summit in Hiroshima in May, he said the leaders of the grouping and invited countries including India and Ukraine agreed that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force cannot be tolerated anywhere in the world.
The Japanese foreign minister said Japan's FOIP makes it clear that South Asia is one of the key regions.
On India's G-20 presidency, Hayashi said Tokyo is very much eager to continue working hand-in-hand with India towards the success of the New Delhi summit of the grouping in September.
"The theme of India's G20 presidency is 'One Earth -- One Family -- One Future'. Prime Minister Modi, in explaining the meaning of this theme, stated that we need to break away from zero-sum thinking, and called for harmony among humankind as well as with planet earth," he said.
"The meaning of G20's theme is in line with the principles of Japan's FOIP, which strives for fostering cooperation at a time of deepening division and confrontation," he noted.
"We look forward to continuing to work side by side with India in the spirit of harmony and cooperation for a better future of the region and beyond," he said.
Delving into bilateral economic engagement, he said Japan has been encouraging Japanese companies to increase investment in India.
"For example, Prime Minister Kishida set the 5-trillion-yen target of public and private investment and financing from Japan to India in the next five years from 2022," he said.
"At the same time, we will work together with the Indian government to effectively address the difficulties that Japanese companies face in the Indian market," he added.
Hayashi also talked about Japan revising its 'Development Cooperation Charter' last month that he said is Tokyo's basic document on development cooperation.
"The new charter will enable Japan to better address development challenges we face including food and energy, climate change, and digital transformation," he said.
"Under this revised charter, we will continue to undertake efforts to build quality infrastructure in India including high-speed rail and urban transportation," he said.
On the high-speed Indo-Japan bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Hayashi said it is expected to improve the efficiency of transportation as well as promote economic development.
"We truly hope that the completion of this high-speed rail will enable India to achieve further economic growth," he said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Jul 28 2023 | 11:03 PM IST

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