Author : Gitanjali Sinha Roy, The year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of India-Japan diplomatic Relations. The ties between India and Japan can be traced back historically to the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced in Japan and elements of Indian culture filtered through Buddhism into the Japanese culture.[i] This was the first point of indirect interaction between India and Japan. After the end of the Second World War, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1949 donated an Indian elephant to the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, Japan and this brought a ray of hope to the lives of the Japanese people, who were yet to recover from the war tragedy. On 28th April 1952, India and Japan signed a peace treaty and also established diplomatic relations. With the establishment of diplomatic relations in place, Japan started granting yen loans to India in 1958.[ii] In August 2000, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori visited India and during that visit, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Prime Minister Mori established the “Global Partnership between India and Japan” and later in December 2006, the relations between India and Japan were elevated to “Global and Strategic Partnership”.[iii] Further, in 2014, the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a new phase of relations between India and Japan which was termed as “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.[iv] In December 2015, both the leaders announced “Japan and India Vision 2025 Special Strategic and Global Partnership Working Together for Peace and Prosperity of the Indo-Pacific Region and the World”.[v] By October 2018, Prime Minister Modi paid an official visit to Japan and the leaders agreed to work on a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”.[vi] On 23rd September 2021, both countries aimed to tackle COVID-19 along with cooperating in the domains of economic, security, digital, green technology, connectivity and healthcare.[vii] Importance of this friendship Historically and culturally, the relations between India and Japan are interconnected through Buddhism. According to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s, “India is a Buddhist country and we have old civilisational ties, we couldn’t ignore India for long and decided to normalize the relationship”.[viii] Both the Governments have organized Buddhist Conclaves which have helped renew and reinvigorate their cultural and historical ties and this also helps in the people-to-people exchange and cooperation. Over the years, the economic relations between India and Japan have steadily expanded. India was the 18th largest trading partner for Japan and Japan was the 20th largest trading partner for India in 2020.[ix] Also, the direct investment from Japan to India has increased tremendously and Japan has emerged as the 4th largest investor for India in 2020.[x] Also, the private sector of Japan is taking interest in India and 1,455 Japanese companies have branches in India.[xi] Both the countries have also aimed to work in the Digital Partnership domain and initiative other efforts. Further, India is the largest recipient of ODA from Japan and Delhi Metro is one of the most successful projects through the utilization of ODA. Also, several strategic connectivity projects aiming to link South Asia to Southeast Asia within the broader synergy of the ‘Act East Policy’ and the ‘Partnership for Quality Infrastructure’ have also been initiated. India and Japan are highly committed to building the High-Speed Railway in India and Japan has provided a loan of 356.30 billion yen in 2020.[xii] In the domain of security and strategy, India and Japan have gained substantial focus and one of the reasons is the China factor. China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean, South China Sea and the East China Sea and its impacts on the security which in turn hurts the national interest of India and Japan. Keeping in mind, the dragon’s claws, the two countries issued a “Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between India and Japan” and highlighted the need for information exchange and policy coordination on regional affairs, defence dialogues and cooperation, cooperation between Coast Guards, safety of transport, disarmament, non-proliferation, terrorism, transnational crimes, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.[xiii] With regard to the defence relations between the two countries, there has been the Defence Ministerial Meeting (2+2 meeting), Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue and Coast Guard to Coast Guard Dialogue. In December 2015, there was an agreement signed on transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology and the Security measures for the protection of Classified Military information were signed.[xiv] Further, on 9th September 2020, India and Japan signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) which came into force in July 2021.[xv] India and Japan are great democracies and aim at the ideals of a value-based order. The need to form the rules-based order was needed to tackle Chinese assertiveness and expansionism in the Indo-Pacific region. Further, India and Japan aim to form a new security architecture which mainly covers maritime security and cooperation. The Way Ahead In order to maintain stronger ties between India and Japan, there is a need to engage in more domains like establishing a safe and reliable 5G network and submarine cables. Further, in the economic domain, both the countries can work on strengthening industrial competitiveness which would also help the supply chain network. Japan should look at more ways to accept specified skilled workers from India and help boost the digitalization process in Japan by using the Indian IT Professionals skills. India and Japan must work on building better space technology and exchange along with work in the domain of electromagnetic fields. Both the countries can cooperate more in India’s Northeast region and develop more connectivity projects which would also help in the increase in better relations with the Southeast Asian countries. Also, educationally, take more students from India into the JENESYS, MEXT and Sakura programme which would also help build greater leaders for tomorrow. Last, but not the least, India and Japan must work on building greater interconnectivity among ports in India and Japan in the region of Indo-Pacific.   End Notes [i] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2021. “Japan-India Relations (Basic Data)”, November 18, 2021. [ii] Ibid. [iii]Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Japan-India Partnership in a New Asian Era: Strategic Orientation of Japan-India Global Partnership”. [iv] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2015. “Japan and India Vision 2025 Special Strategic and Global Partnership Working Together for Peace and Prosperity of the Indo-Pacific Region and the World”, December 12, 2015. [v] Ibid. [vi] Please see Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”. [vii] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Japan-India Summit Meeting”, September 23, 2021. [viii] Paul, Joshy M. “India–Japan Security Cooperation: A New Era of Partnership in Asia”, June 2012, Maritime Affairs Journal of the National Maritime Foundation of India 8(1):31-50. DOI:10.1080/09733159.2012.690290. [ix] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2021. “Japan-India Relations (Basic Data)”, November 18, 2021. [x] Ibid. [xi] Ibid. [xii] Ibid. [xiii]Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between Japan and India”. [xiv] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Fact Sheet: Japan and India, Working Together for Peace and Prosperity”, 12 December 2015. [xv] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2021. “Japan-India Relations (Basic Data)”, November 18, 2021. Gitanjali Sinha Roy is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic Studies and Simulation (CS3), United Service Institution of India (USI), New Delhi, India. Previously, she worked at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi, India as Research Assistant. Her area of interest is mainly India-Japan foreign and security policy. Article uploaded: 22-01-2022. Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he/she belongs to or of the USI of India.