A Wider View of India and Japan’s Foreign Policy Reveals Clear Strategy
Shinzo Abe has ruffled quite a few feathers since his return as Japan’s prime minister in December. His cabinet ministers’ visit in April to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, was condemned by China and South Korea, and in no time, Japan became the target of North Korean saber-rattling and American finger-wagging. So it ought to have elicited more surprise when Abe’s soft-spoken Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, plainly declared his comfort with his host’s worldview on a recent visit to Tokyo.
“India and Japan have a shared vision of a rising Asia,” Mr. Singh said in a prepared speech. “Our relations draw their strength from our spiritual, cultural and civilizational affinities and a shared commitment to the ideals of democracy, peace and freedom,” he said, adding, “Prime Minister Abe and I will work together to strengthen our strategic partnership.” The declaration, which was accompanied by a rare private dinner between the two prime ministers, was seen in many quarters as an unambiguous signal to China.
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Dhruva Jaishankar is a Transatlantic Fellow with the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington DC.