India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flight touched down at Kyoto, Japan’s old capital, on Saturday to open up warm and friendly ties between the two giants in Asia, which remained dormant since India’s independence in 1947, coupled with Japan’s defeat in World War Two in 1945.
Moving over from war period relations centred around Indian leader Subhas Chandra Bose to Indian Judge Radha Binod Pal’s pro-Japan verdict at Tokyo War Tribunal in 1948, both nations remained on apparent friendly ties in view of the Cold War polemics that stymied the scope beyond aid to New Delhi.
Post-Cold War, India looked forward to more meaningful investments from Japan with its liberlization under the P.V. Narasimha Rao’s government that proved futile owing to Japan’s Near-Shanghai approach to invest and prop its neighbour into a global commercial giant. Japan’s neighbour South Korea, however, moved in to fill the gap and is a visble brand on every Indian street now.
At a time when India is relatively robust with its economy and proved its nuclear status, Japan turned around to extend cooperation to the forgotten friend that too restricted to aid-tied funding of its huge infrastructure demand.
But the year 1996 when India went ahead with its second nuclear tests under the Vajpayee government, attracting double sanctions from Japan should not be forgotten and Japan is still wary about India’s nuclear ambitions though domestically, it has relented its tough stand on ‘Peace Constitution’ recently.
Essentially, India seeks Japan to sign a nuclear pact on the lines of a 2008 deal with the United States that allowed India import US nuclear fuel and technology without giving up its military nuclear program. But Japan is skeptical to do so unless India gives an undertaking that it will not conduct nuclear tests and allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear installations to ensure that spent fuel is not diverted to make bombs.
While Kyoto agenda will crunch Modi’s scope to visiting cultural glory of Japan besides seeing the ‘Smart City’ model that can be replicated in his vision of making 100 Indian cities ‘smart’ and Varanasi-Kyoto Pact will lead the initiative. Otherwise, his visit to Tokyo on Monday will spell out the real purpose of the visit, which may see both new visionaries of Asia to sign quid-pro-quo agreements in defence with Japan that no longer has a ‘Peace’ Constitution.
Narendra Modi, like socres of his predecessors who visited Japan with great hopes but returned empty-handed will soon realize how difficult it is to negotiate with the Japanese, let alone deal diplomatically with them. “I am keenly looking forward to my visit to Japan at the invitation of my good friend, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for the annual summit between India and Japan,” Modi said in his statement before the departure.
The words may remain same after the five-day visit but in concrete terms, Modi should know that Japan will not explicity announce any big deals during the visits but years later. ““I am confident that my visit will write a new chapter in the annals of the relations between Asia’s two oldest democracies and take our Strategic and Global Partnership to the next higher level,” says Modi. Diplomatic parlance to it is that no big deal will be signed now.
“New Chapters” in global relations are not written during the first state visits but in the follow up visits and Modi needs to visit Japan every year to achieve that. Mere tweeting in Japanese reflects the fact he is already ill-advised as show off is “un-Japanese behaviour”.
“Deru kui wa utareru” goes the age-old Japanese saying which literally means “the stake that sticks up gets hammered down” or “If you stand out, you will be subjected to criticism”. Always visits to Japan with no hype get the rewards.