Why is Kishida from Japan going to India?
Kishida is visiting India on March 20-21, as part of a bilateral summit in which India and Japan have been participating since 2006. So what sets this visit apart? According to the protocol of bilateral visits, it is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s turn to visit Japan.
By visiting India last March, Kishida relaunched the bilateral face-to-face. Following this, Modi visited Japan twice – for the Quad summit and the funeral of late Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, holding brief meetings with Kishida, reinforcing the importance of Indo-Japanese relations. Yet this time around, when it was Modi’s turn to travel to Japan for the bilateral summit, Kishida is traveling to India instead. This has led to some speculation.
Kishida’s sudden visit is seen by many analysts as compensation for Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa’s absence from India’s G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting in early March. Instead, Japanese Minister of State Yamada Kenji was delegated as his representative. While Hayashi’s absence was explained as resulting from the traditional need for cabinet members to appear before Japan’s parliamentary budget committee, it was pointed out that he was simply speaking for 53 seconds on the issue of loneliness faced by overseas Japanese residents.
Considering Kishida speaking out on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, he said:Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow” – and constantly draws attention to developments in the East and South China Seas, missing the opportunity to use the forum goes against expectations. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and High Representative/Vice -President of the European Union Josep Borrell were all present, making it a rare gathering. The absence came under further scrutiny as Hayashi attended the Quadruple Ministerial Meeting and the Raisina Dialogue the following day.
Having served as Minister of Foreign Affairs himself, Kishida is well aware of the importance of being present at a overseas talk fest. Can we assume that, given that the meeting of G-20 finance ministers and the Board of Governors that preceded the meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in February did not produce a joint declaration, the expectation of a definitive development in this forum was so low that it did not bode well for Hayashi’s presence?
Whatever the reason, at a time when Japan is advancing its geopolitical importance and positioning, the absence of its foreign minister has sent the message that the Quad is more important to Japan than the G-20. .
While Kishida’s whirlwind tour of India can be interpreted as an appeasement tour, sparked by Hayashi’s absence from the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting, other important issues deserve the attention of the two leaders. The in-person meeting would help map out a productive action plan.
This year is significant as India holds the presidency of the G-20 and Japan that of the G-7. Decidedly, the two leaders will take advantage of this meeting in person to consult on the agenda of these two forums. THE “rule of law” is the main program that Japan promotes within the G-7, which targets the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. This very question is the main obstacle to a consensus within the G-20. So, at this Kishida-Modi meeting, Japan will be compelled to help India lead its leadership and ensure that the issue of war in Ukraine does not derail India’s agenda in the G -20.
In addition, recent positive developments in Australia-India relations, including the entrenchment of the comprehensive economic partnership, the establishment of task forces and frequent visits by officials, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this year, prompt Kishida to discuss and understand what India sees as its trajectory in its relationship with Australia. Additionally, it will examine how Japan can align to advance this vision. As these nations also constitute three quarters of the Quadrilateral, strong bilateral cooperation from all sides will deepen the relationship, facilitating the strategic agenda.
Beyond that, two important topics for consultation will be the digital economy and supply chain concerns. These two areas feature on both the bilateral and Quad agenda and are of critical importance. In the digital economy, the discussion must go beyond the bilateral to include the active search for collaboration in a third country. In terms of supply chains, India will bring in the insignificant movement of Japanese companies to India under Japan’s “China plus one” initiative. Also on the agenda is the near-non-functioning of the Quad’s Resilient Supply Chain Initiative in which India, Japan and Australia were to look into alternative supply chains to counter the “militarization of trade.”
Apart from that, Kishida and Modi will look to take stock of the commitments made in the previous joint deal. Defense and railway cooperation will be the focus, as well as security concerns due to Russia’s and China’s position on the international stage. Given the stability of the Indian economy, further investment by Japan in new areas of critical technologies, which working groups have explored, will be discussed.
Japan plans to integrate northeast India with the rest of Southeast Asia as part of the larger plan of a “Free and open Indo-Pacific.” So far, this has manifested itself in investments via Japan’s overseas development assistance in infrastructure development to enable connectivity. The connectivity goes beyond northeast India and encompasses Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Cooperation on this front should be reviewed, with emphasis on encouraging Japanese private investors to engage more substantially in this region.
Also, with China’s growing presence in the Indo-Pacific region, Mr. Kishida will present Japan’s new agenda of a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is expected to extend beyond infrastructure development. As part of their conversation, climate change, sustainable development goals, energy transition and health issues will be weighed and engagement should be expected as these areas are part of India’s G-20 leadership agenda.
India and Japan celebrated 70 years of friendship in 2022. Reflecting on how this relationship grew from a “Global partnership” has a “Special Strategic and Global Partnershipwe can see gaps in the economic partnership and the connection between people. While economic partnership was the pillar on which this relationship took shape, the two leaders will no doubt direct policy makers in both nations to review and consider how to strengthen this pillar. Moreover, the much-vaunted civilizational ties have not translated into strong ties between peoples. The meaning is that Kishida and Modi will put forward various programs to enable exchanges of people, namely youth, labor and artists, while putting more emphasis on tourism.
Therefore, Kishida’s trip to India is not just about correcting a diplomatic faux pas. Instead, as the ability to reach a common statement within the G-20 is in question, a detailed discussion between Japan and India as leaders of the G-20 and G-20 consortia -7 will hopefully lead the way. Furthermore, Kishida intends to reveal Japan’s new agenda for a free and open Indo-Pacific, strengthening India’s geostrategic and geopolitical position. At the same time, regional dynamics and the bilateral agenda will also be duly taken into account.
Why is Kishida from Japan going to India?