August 24, 2007


'Confluence of the two seas' (Purnendra Jain, 8/24/07, Asia Times)

Once characterized by a low-key bilateral relationship with India, Japan today shows an extraordinary interest in the South Asian country, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's three-day visit to New Delhi this week signifies this most strongly. [...]

In Indonesia, he signed a bilateral free-trade agreement, making it the sixth Southeast Asian country after Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei to have an FTA with Japan. Indonesia is the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to Japan, and in an environment where there is a strategic race for energy security, Japan has secured supplies through this agreement. In return, Japan will provide liberal access to a range of Indonesian products, including farm produce - rice exempted - into its market. After India, Abe was scheduled to visit Malaysia, where he is to meet with his Malaysian counterpart and is expected to sign a joint statement promoting bilateral cooperation in areas ranging from security to environmental issues.

The most important visit on his Asian tour was that to India, a country that for long remained on the periphery of Japan's Asia vision. But the old vision has changed significantly and swiftly, and further change is on its way as Tokyo is keen to engage India in a comprehensive way. Calling it a "paradigm shift", Japanese Ambassador to India Yasukuni Enoki stated that within the framework of Japan's Asian diplomacy, now "the Japan-India partnership is the most important".

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 24, 2007 8:00 AM
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