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India, Japan can shape multipolar world, says Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla

India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla has said that “growing convergence” between India, Japan on “strategic and economic issues” has the “potential to shape a multi-polar world that is more peaceful, secure and sustainable.” 

Both countries share close relations and had elevated ties to Special Strategic and Global Partnership. Both countries have an annual summit-level mechanism, that alternates between the 2 countries as 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers dialogue.

FS Shringla said, “Progress in the economic pillar of our ties has been accompanied by an increasing convergence in our strategic outlook towards the region. This is reflected in our shared vision for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.”

He explained, that “this convergence is not only seen in bilateral exchanges but also in the increasing comfort in working with other like-minded partners through plurilateral forums, involving other partners.”

India, the US, Australia, Japan have a quad grouping that had the first heads of govt level meeting earlier this year virtually. Later this year, Washington is expected to host the first in-person meeting. Amid the covid crisis, covid plus grouping had met regularly at the foreign secretary-level virtually to exchange best practices. Meanwhile, India, Japan, along with Australia are working on Supply Chain Resilience.

FS said, “COVID-19 pandemic has not only generated severe economic stresses but would have a long term impact on the geopolitical situation”, and quoted PM Modi who said, “the friendship between India and Japan has become more relevant to our partnership, global stability, and prosperity in this COVID pandemic era.”

Under the ongoing partnership, both now plan to work on joint projects in 3rd countries which include the Russian far east and the pacific island states. Already both have a project in Kenya and Japan’s connectivity projects in India’s North East are being extended to Bangladesh. Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) stands at over Rs 1600 cr in India’s northeast with projects, many of them connectivity in 7 states of the region. 

Shringla said, “India and Japan are continuing to enhance their ability to work with other partners in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. We are looking at deepening our cooperation in third countries, moving beyond India’s immediate neighbourhood to the Russian Far East and the Pacific Island States.”Japan is also a lead partner in the ‘connectivity pillar’ of the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI). IPOI has 7 pillars and was launched by Indian PM Modi in 2019 at the East Asia Summit.