Signalling China, Japan PM Kishida Says ‘India Is Indispensable’ In Indo-Pacific

New Delhi: In a major signal to China, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida Monday said India is an “indispensable partner” for Tokyo as far as the Indo-Pacific strategy is concerned, even as he announced that his government will mobilise funds worth $75 billion to build the infrastructure in this region.

Kishida, who was on a 24-hour trip to India, left for Tokyo Tuesday morning after holding a bilateral summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, whom he invited to attend the G7 Summit, which is scheduled to take place on May 19-21 in Hiroshima. Japan is the current G7 chair.

During the summit, both leaders discussed China as Beijing continues to pose immense challenges for both Tokyo as well as New Delhi, top-level sources, who did not want to be named, told ABP Live.

According to the sources, both sides deliberated on issues concerning China and how Tokyo and New Delhi can “help each other” during times of emergency.

In that regard, PM Kishida made it amply clear that Tokyo intends to work closely with India not just to boost their presence in the Indo-Pacific through greater and deeper defence and security ties but by also bringing India’s friendly neighbours like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka closer.

“India is an indispensable partner,” PM Kishida said while delivering a lecture organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs. “I believe that Japan and India are in an extremely unique position in the current international relations and, furthermore, in the history of the world.”

Hinting at China, he said, “This year, as Japan holds the G7 presidency and India holds the G20 presidency, my hope is that, through working together with ASEAN and other many countries, we will bring about peace and prosperity to the international community, which faces a time of challenges.”

The Japanese PM also announced that Japan would mobilise a total of more than $75 billion in public and private funds in the Indo-Pacific region by 2030 in infrastructure and grow together with other countries.

“The vision for achieving this is FOIP (Free and Open Indo-Pacific) based on the rule of law. I believe that this region will be a place where freedom and the rule of law are valued, free from force or coercion,” he added.

On China And ‘Challenges’

Later in the day, while addressing the media, Japan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hikariko Ono said Japan did raise with PM Modi the issue of China changing the status quo at the East and South China Seas.

India and China are also engaged in a prolonged military standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) from April-May 2020. New Delhi has said unless there is peace at the border normal ties with Beijing will not resume.

“The India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership is based on our shared democratic values, and respect for the rule of law in the international arena. Strengthening this partnership is not only important for both our countries, it also promotes peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Prime Minister Modi said in his statement to the press after the bilateral meeting.

Addressing a special media conference on the visit, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said both the leaders spoke about all the “challenges” facing this region, when asked about China.

“On China, the two leaders as I mentioned during their luncheon meeting also spoke about the ongoing developments in our region and also globally and naturally as part of those discussions, they spoke about the challenges that we face in the region.”
Modi added: “This year India is chairing the G20, and Japan is chairing the G7. And therefore, this is the perfect opportunity to work together on our respective priorities and interests. Today, I explained in detail to Prime Minister Kishida about the priorities of India’s G20 Presidency. Giving voice to the priorities of the Global South is an important pillar of our G20 Presidency.”

According to Kishida, added to China’s challenge, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war will have an adverse impact on the low-income countries, which constitute the so-called ‘Global South’. In that effort, both leaders discussed ways to work in a collaborative manner in countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka that are facing economic and debt crises.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine obliges us to face the most fundamental challenge; defending peace. Various challenges related to “global commons,” such as climate and the environment, global health and cyberspace, have become more serious. I will incorporate these new elements of addressing peace and the global commons-related issues into FOIP. Also, I will take further measures in areas such as connectivity and freedom of the seas that have been the focus of FOIP thus far,” said Kishida.