June 8, 2007


India and Japan: Congruence, at last (Anirudh Suri, 6/09/07, Speaking Freely: Asia Times Online)

Japan has sought partners in Asia, other than the US, to limit Chinese influence, if not to contain China. Building on Koizumi's January 2002 proposal for a new Asian regionalism based on the promotion of market economics and democratic values, Abe has envisaged an "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity" in essence made up of democratic nations that line the outer rim of the Eurasian continent.

This has necessitated a strong focus on India, evident from its prominent featuring in Japan's recent diplomatic overtures and initiatives in Asia. It is clear that Japan and India are likely to become closely tied partners in coming years based on common values and strategic interests and as a useful complement to Japan's traditional strategic reliance on relations with the US.

Domestic developments within India have followed a similar path of attempting to shed old shibboleths. Emboldened by its rapid and sustained economic-growth story, and a new strategic partnership with the most powerful country in the world, the United States, India has shed its foreign-policy shackles of non-alignment and is slowly seeking to develop interests-based friendships and partnerships with the major powers of the world.

Japan then becomes a suitable partner for several reasons. First, an economic partnership and enhanced trade and investment ties with the second-largest economy has to be an essential component of India's economic strategy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has repeatedly emphasized that economic ties must be the bedrock of India's relationship with all the major powers in the world, including Japan.

Second, India wants to integrate itself with the rest of Asia, and as it "looks east", it has realized that it needs partners within Asia that will take up its cause. Japan has been more than happy to play that role. Without Japan's initiative and the manifestations of the China-Japan rivalry, it is possible that India would not have been invited to participate in the East Asian Summit. For India, therefore, its relations with Japan are crucial in its quest for greater economic integration with the Asia-Pacific region.

Third, India is wary of a China that is striking strategic partnerships with its neighbors, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. A strong tie-up with Japan enables India to play China's own game in its back yard. India also shares Japanese (and US) concerns about China as a regional hegemon in Asia, and believes that a stronger partnership between the democratic nations of Asia will exert a moderating influence over a rising China and ensure a multipolar Asia.

Finally, India's strategic partnership with the US envisages India as a key partner in regional issues, and it is only appropriate that India and Japan, as partners of the US in Asia, develop a strong relationship.

In a legacy that doesn't want for achievements, this is likely W's greatest.

The growing India-Brazil axis (Sudha Ramachandran, 6/09/07, Asia Times)

While their shared ambitions of getting permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council brought India and Brazil together, their common aspirations of becoming global powerhouses has contributed to the two countries joining hands to energize their economies. This was the unambiguous statement that come out of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's three-day visit to India. [...]

Geographically, Brazil is 2.6 times as big as India. Its per capita income is five times that of India. It is rich in natural resources. The two countries are continents apart and culturally different. Yet they are drawn to each other because they have much to gain from cooperating economically.

More important, India and Brazil have found that as emerging giants of Asia and Latin America, they have similar aspirations and are having to contend with similar obstacles in realizing their ambitions. They have realized that they are in a better position to tackle the challenges by pitching together their skills and resources.

They are working together in a range of multilateral forums, including the World Trade Organization, to ensure that their voices are heard.

As part of the group of four countries bidding for permanent seats in the Security Council, India and Brazil (the other two are Germany and Japan) have pooled their diplomatic resources. Their joint effort has failed to bear fruit yet, and the bid has been put on the back burner for now. However, the shared ambition of sitting at the UN's high table remains very much alive.

Not only does Germany not warrant a seat but the European states other than Britain should be punted. And India should get the Asia seat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2007 6:07 AM

Germany? The Euros have 3 seats already. Germany should replace France.

Posted by: ic at June 8, 2007 1:29 PM