Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida(L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI)
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida called for an immediate cessation of violence in Ukraine and a return to the path of dialogue between the warring sides, even as the two leaders discussed the role and actions of China in the Indo-Pacific region, given the fact that both nations have different territorial disputes with Beijing.
At the 14th annual India-Japan bilateral summit in New Delhi on Saturday evening, Japan announced an enhanced investment target of Japanese Yen (JPY) 5 trillion (US$ 42 billion, Rs 3.2 lakh crore) of "public and private investment and financing from Japan to India in the next five years, to finance appropriate public and private projects of mutual interest" that India welcomed. The Japanese Prime Minister slammed Russia for its "attack" on Ukraine though, obviously in view of Indian sensitivities, there was no mention or criticism of Russia in the joint statement issued after the summit. However, it did "emphasise that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states". The visit to India was Kishida’s first one overseas since taking over as Japanese PM, thereby highlighting the importance of India-Japan ties.
At a late-evening briefing, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the role of China in the region had come up for discussion between the two Prime Ministers and that India had discussed the "multiple transgressions" by Chinese troops in the Ladakh sector. He added that India’s view was that Sino-Indian ties would not be normal or "business as usual" unless there was progress on this issue of peace on the borders in talks between New Delhi and Beijing.
The Japanese PM is understood to have discussed his country’s concerns regarding the role of China in the East and South China sea.
In a major boost to India’s position, the two nations also condemned previous "terrorist attacks in India, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks and called upon Pakistan to take resolute and irreversible action against terrorist networks operating out of its territory and comply fully with international commitments".
In his remarks, the Japanese Prime Minister slammed Russia, saying that "the Russian attack on Ukraine is of serious concern and shakes the foundations of the international order", adding that "changing the status quo by the use of force should not be allowed". Kishida said he had expressed his views on the Russian actions to Prime Minister Modi.
The Japanese PM also spoke about the financial humanitarian assistance announced by his country to Ukraine and its western neighbours.
Describing Kishida as an "old friend of India", PM Modi pitched for the common values that bound both nations including democracy, freedom and the rule of law. He also said both countries understood the need for stable and secure energy supplies, a comment seen as significant in the wake of India purchasing Russian oil at cheaper rates.
Thanking Japan for its economic assistance to India and pointing out that India was continuing its efforts to continue to provide a conducive atmosphere for Japanese companies to invest in India, PM Modi pitched for India as a global manufacturing hub, describing it as "Make in India for the World".
Cooperation in the four-nation Quad (that also includes the US and Australia) was discussed including the Quad vaccine initiatives, with Japan set to host the Quad Summit soon in a few weeks. Inking six pacts including in the fields of cyber-security and water management and supply, both countries also discussed strengthening of their security and economic ties including the formulation of a Roadmap under the the India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership (IJICP) to further promote industrial cooperation between the two countries including in the areas of MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), manufacturing and supply chains.
PM Modi also welcomed the signing of the exchange of notes concerning seven loan projects in which Japan provides over 300 billion yen (over INR 20400 crores) in total. India and Japan also announced a clean energy partnership covering areas such as "Electric Vehicles (EV), storage systems including batteries, electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI)". Both leaders also welcomed the launch of the "India-Japan Initiative for Sustainable Development of the North Eastern Region of India, which includes "Initiative for Strengthening the Bamboo Value Chain in the North East and cooperation in health care, forest resources management, connectivity and tourism in different states of the North Eastern Region". PM Modi also expressed satisfaction over the progress of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. Both leaders also "welcomed India’s approval of imports of Japanese apples and relaxation of procedures of Indian mango exports to Japan"and "promoting trade of a fish (called) surimi between India and Japan".
The Joint Statement said that both leaders "highlighted their commitment to working in tandem towards a peaceful, stable and prosperous world, based on a rules-based order that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, and emphasized the need for all countries to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law without resorting to threat or use of force or any attempt to unilaterally change status quo. In this regard, they reaffirmed their common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, free from coercion."
On Ukraine, the Joint Statement said, "The Prime Ministers expressed their serious concern about the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications, particularly to the Indo-Pacific region. They emphasized that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. They underscored the importance of safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine and acknowledged active efforts of the IAEA towards it. They reiterated their call for an immediate cessation of violence and noted that there was no other choice but the path of dialogue and diplomacy for resolution of the conflict. The Leaders affirmed that they would undertake appropriate steps to address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine."
On the Indo-Pacific, it said, "The Prime Ministers emphasized that India and Japan, as two leading powers in the Indo-Pacific region, had a shared interest in the safety and security of the maritime domain, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce and peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with international law. They reaffirmed their determination to continue prioritizing the role of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges against the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas. They emphasized the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint."
On economic ties, the Joint Statement said, "The Prime Ministers noted with appreciation that since elevation of ties to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership, there had been significant growth in economic cooperation. They expressed satisfaction that the investment target of JPY 3.5 trillion announced in 2014 has been achieved. Noting steps taken by India to improve the business environment for Japanese investors in India, as well as other measures to boost economic growth and improve ease of doing business, they expressed their shared intention to realize JPY 5 trillion of public and private investment and financing from Japan to India in the next five years, to finance appropriate public and private projects of mutual interest."