Thursday, December 31, 2009

India-Japan Getting Toward Powerful Friend

"My shoes are Japanese" is a very popular song of 1950s. But even today, children hum its tune with the same ardor. The word "Japanese" might have been familiar to Indians but the country itself seemed to be a small island in Asia. Its economic progress has created history.
Japan was thoroughly ruined by US nuclear bombs. Yet, it later formed an alliance with that very country to take the manufacturing sector by storm. As a result, Japan has turned into a global economic powerhouse, to become the second most powerful economy. China and India are today competing to become a superpower in Asia. But Japan was the first country in the region to have a successful record of modernization.
If friendship between India and Japan had not reached the expected level, the United States has to be partly blamed for it. Our relations with Japan at this stage cannot actually be described as "cordial." But relations change with time. US-Japan relationship is no longer the same. China is determined to replace Japan as the second most powerful economy. Its growing military strength is giving jitters to Japan about a future crisis. At the same time, under Obama's leadership the United States has decided to accept China as the leader in Asia. The need to create a balance of power in the continent has, therefore, drawn Japan toward India.

Signing CTBT
During Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's recent India visit, differences surfaced between the two countries over India having not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Yet, it carries out much significance because 45 countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) have adopted a considerably soft approach toward India. Most of them have signed civilian nuclear cooperation agreement also, under which they have promised to supply raw material for nuclear plants in India. This has been made possible as a consequence of the India-US nuclear deal during the Bush Administration. When in 1998, India conducted a nuclear experiment, a majority of the nuclear fuel supplier countries imposed major sanctions against India. These included Japan also.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Hatoyama exchanging views on the CTBT in New Delhi was quite on the predictable lines. The Japanese, being the first and only victims of the nuclear bomb, do not miss an opportunity to advocate for a strict control on the proliferation of nuclear weapon technology. But India cannot be blamed for the CTBT not coming into force. As Dr Manmohan Singh made it clear, a new situation will arise when the US and China first ratify the CTBT. Only then can anybody raise the question why India, too, should not put its signature on it.
Despite not having ratified the CTBT, India continues to occupy the moral high ground because of its unilateral declaration of a moratorium on nuclear tests and adherence to the No First Use policy. In fact, India’s record as a nuclear weapon power is much better than that of China, which has harmed the non-proliferation cause by disguisedly helping Pakistan to acquire weapon-production capability.
India’s latest stance on the CTBT remains what the NDA government articulated after the 1998 nuclear tests — New Delhi would not come in the way of the treaty coming into force if the US and China went ahead and put their signature on it.
During the Second World War, Japan was the only country that suffered the devastation caused by nuclear bombs. Since then Japan has made astonishing progress in the technical sector. From this aspect it is reckoned among the leading nations of the world. Nevertheless, it has stuck to its official policy since then. It has neither conducted nuclear experiments nor is it in favor of doing so.
In so far as India is concerned, various successive governments have consistently emphasized that nuclear experiments carried out by have been for peaceful purposes in the civilian sector. Nevertheless, the whole world is aware that India was constrained to take to this path in the wake of the nuclear experiments conducted by certain major nations, especially China. Which is why, India has been hesitant to sign the CTBT. The leading nuclear weapon nations are pursuing their unilateral policy. On one hand they have piled up huge nuclear weapons, on the other they have been restraining other countries to do so. What is actually desirable is that the world should be made nuclear weapon free. All the nuclear weapon stockpiled in the past should be destroyed and a ban should be imposed on doing so.

Agreement on Defense Sector
The agreements on defense and on fighting terrorism are a historic step taken to meet this "need." Japan's most serious problem today is rapid decline in population. The number of deaths exceeds by far the number of births. Japan's social system does not allow foreigners to settle there. Nonetheless, manpower is required to run factories and other enterprises. In contrast, India is beset with a population explosion. At the same time, it has a large number of skilled workers who can become Japan's most dependable source.
Although Japan fully appreciates the stance adopted by India, its policy to amass nuclear weapons is understandable. We are duly aware that Japan has surged ahead in all respects during the past few decades, which is amazing. Japan's stance has been quite cordial. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the two nations have not marched forward on the path of cooperation and friendship to the extent that was expected of them. It is regrettable that they have not been able to do so, so far. For instance, Japan promoted its friendship with China through extending mutual cooperation in various fields. According to one estimate, the volume of Japan's trade with China is 20 times more than with India. It is also true that Japan extended cooperation to India whenever it was sought from Japan in various technological sectors and vital projects.

Comprehensive Cooperation
The Japanese prime minister displayed tremendous response for the supply of the technology required in the introduction of bullet trains in India. There are still numerous sectors of technology in which India can seek comprehensive cooperation from Japan. Even otherwise, India needs to learn a lot from Japan. It needs the Japanese cooperation in its quest for accelerating the pace of progress for improving the economic lot of its people. It is to be hoped that India and Japan would succeed in taking a quantum leap toward their mutual friendship in the future.
Japan might now be hesitating to give nuclear equipment to India. But going by present indications, this partnership is bound to be forged in the future. Japan seems to be pressuring India to eradicate nuclear weapons. Its real targets, however, are China and the United States. Hatoyama's visit will certainly take this growing friendship between the countries to new heights.

No comments: