India-Japan friendship foretells dawn of new era
Looking back at the history, the cultural relation between India with Japan was established in the sixth century only when Buddhism reached there. Since then, the relations have been good. There is no mention of any acrimony in the pages of history. Rather, during the freedom struggle of India, the Japanese royal army had cooperated with the Azad Hind Fauj of Subhas Chandra Bose in every way.
After independence, the foundation of good relations with Japan was laid by our first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and after that all the prime ministers tried to make relations even better. However, when India conducted a nuclear test in Pokhran, many countries of the world including Japan had imposed several restrictions on us. Following this, the then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had sent a non-governmental all-party delegation to Japan, in which I was also involved. We told Japan that we are a country that follows the principles of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir and our nuclear programme is aimed at ensuring durable peace. Later, Japan understood out point of view. During our visit, we realised that despite the old relations, there is not as much attraction for India in the younger generation as it should be. There is an atmosphere of indifference towards India in tourism or other sectors there.
However, it should be expected in the new era that the Japanese youth should develop an attraction towards India. There is a growing friendship at the government level. In December 2006, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh had visited Japan. At that time, many agreements were signed between the two countries in the areas of defence cooperation and partnerships in other areas. In 2008, there was an agreement between Japan and India, under which Japan assured a $450 billion aid for the Delhi-Mumbai High Speed Train corridor. It is in the context of the same agreement that the foundation of the bullet train to run between Ahmedabad and Mumbai has been laid. There were several summits between former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe was also our guest at the Republic Day celebrations of 2014. Here I would like to tell that Shinzo Abe is also a very good person. I have got good fortune of proximity and friendship with him, and I have seen him from close quarters. He is a fantastic host. He has immense respect for India. Therefore, the graph of friendship is rising.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands that India’s friendship with Japan is very important in this era, so he chose Japan for his first visit outside of the Indian subcontinent.
He won over Shinzo Abe with his warm-hearted gesture. Since Japan’s relations with India are equally important, they also responded in equal measure. Economic cooperation between the two countries is also very important. Japanese companies such as Sony, Toyota and Honda have established their plants in India and have played an important role in the development of India. Suzuki, along with Maruti, started the automobile revolution in India. Japan has been a significant contributor to the construction of significant projects ranging from Delhi Metro to the Golden Quadrilateral and the North-South and East-West Corridors.
Indeed, Japan is as much important for us as India is important for Japan. India is not only a huge market with huge potential but the partnership between India and Japan with regard to relations with China is very important too. There is a sea border dispute between Japan and China. Situated in front of the city of Shanghai in China are Japanese cities like Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Nagasaki across the sea. China has staked its claim over large parts of the sea, which Japan calls illegal. China poses a grave threat for Japan through North Korea. China also has a border dispute with India and the controversy has erupted many times. That is why the India-Japan friendship remains an irritant for China.
The frustration of China is constantly visible through its media. It is trying to convince India that India should not form any group against China. China clearly feels that India, Japan, America and Australia are banding together so that India can get more attention than China in Asia. There is nothing wrong in China thinking so. Last year, India, Japan and the United States of America together conducted a joint war drill in the South China Sea. It is worth mentioning that China is engaged in developing many illegal islands in the South China Sea. This joint war drill in the South China Sea amidst the growing tension is considered as a threat by China. Here, in response to China’s One Belt One Road project, India and Japan are looking forward to make the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor a reality.
One aspect of the friendship between India and Japan is that both have two different but important capabilities. Japan is ahead in technology and India can lead. Obviously, Japan and India want to jointly share their capabilities with each other. China knows that the new era will emerge from the friendship of India and Japan, so it has put Pakistan in its lap to disturb India. I believe that howsoever hard it may try, China can not stop the development journey of India. The alliance of India with Japan, America and Australia is going to be a big challenge for China.
Before I conclude
The country is angry with the constant surge in prices of petrol and diesel. People are not able to understand that when the price of petroleum has almost been half as compared to 2012-13 in the international market today, why the price of petrol is spiralling? Already, the prices of fuels in India are so high because of 45 to 52 percent taxes. It is arguable why petrol and diesel are not being included in the GST. The highest rate of GST is 28 per cent and this obviously will reduce the prices of fuels.