Changing Asia Series on “Japan’s Perspective of the Changing Geopolitics of Asia” by Amb. Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India on December 08, 2017

Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre held a lecture in the “Japan’s Perspective of the Changing Geopolitics of Asia”

By Amb. Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India

Chair: C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies.

Programme Details
Date: December 08, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Venue: Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre


India is right in middle of changing geopolitical dynamics: Japanese Ambassador

“The geopolitics of Asia is dynamic changing. We used to discuss strategic issues with a focus on the Pacific Ocean, but that focus has shifted to India and the Indian Ocean. Thus, it is becoming more fitting to refer to the broader Indo-Pacific region nowadays in order to capture the dynamics of Asia. We are now having strategic discussions on this region, stretching from Asia to the African Continent. We place India right in the middle of this geopolitical dynamics,” said Ambassador of Japan to India, Kenji Hiramatsu.

Citing the reasons for this geopolitical shift, he said, the first and foremost is the changing global power balance which has become more dynamic and complex. The second is the increasing unpredictability and uncertainty in the region with issues such as North Korea, the South China Sea and terrorism surfacing. The third reason is the heightened significance of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, where the sea lanes stretching from the African continent to Japan are becoming crucial for the peace and prosperity of this part of the globe.

While stating that the Indo-Pacific region is a place blessed with opportunities, encompassing fast growing countries like India and the African continent which is full of potential, he also cautioned on the challenges with sharp focus on the recent North Korean ballistic missile launch into the Sea of Japan. “North Korea is a threat to the region’s peace and security. The recent missile launch precisely shows that the threat has entered a new level. It is time for all countries to unite and increase pressure on North Korea,” he said. Ambassador Hiramatsu brought to notice that Japan and India have agreed on this point and further steps to enhance cooperation on his front are being discussed at the bilateral level.

Speaking on the role that China plays in dealing with the North Korean issue, the Ambassador said, “Being in the unique position where it has the most effective leverage over North Korea, China’s constructive cooperation is indispensable to ensure peace and stability in this region.”

The next issue that he highlighted in his lecture was terrorism. Calling it a “major concern”, he said, India and Japan shared the view to strengthen cooperation to address the threats posed by terrorism.

“In the Japan-India Joint Statement of September, the two leaders condemned in the strongest terms the growing menace of terrorism and violent extremism. They also shared the view that all forms and manifestations of terrorism must be forcefully combatted through concerted global action, and agreed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats,” he added.

Speaking on Japan-India relations, he said it is at its “best ever” and substantial dialogues are being held at all levels. “The visit of Prime Minister Abe to India in September contributed to take bilateral relations to another level and ushered in a new era. India and Japan are key partners with the shared commitment to democracy, openness and rule of law,” he said.

“India is Japan’s key partner, and there are various reasons behind this. The very basic but important factor is that we share values, such as our commitment to democracy, openness, and the rule of law,” he added.

He mentioned about India’s Act East Policy and Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and how the two sides have agreed to align these policies. He expressed Japan’s willingness to work with India to increase connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. In this context, he spoke about how the Act East Forum can act as a springboard for both Japan and India to complete projects in the region.

He reiterated Japan’s support to India’s membership to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and also welcomed India’s efforts to strengthen regional cooperation. He drew upon the deep historic and spiritual ties that helps bring both the nations together. Stressing on the need for international forums, he said, Indian Ocean-Rim Association (IORA) is viable and has potential. He quoted Prime Minister Abe and said, “ A robust Japan-India relationship is for global good.”

C.Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies who chaired the session, in his concluding remarks said, “Japan played a very distinctive role in the last century in global geopolitics. The 1905 Russia-Japan war in which Japan was able to prevail over Russia had a tectonic impact.”

Turning his attention to the post Cold War period he said, “Soon after Cold War, we had a Japan that can say no.” But taking into account the current scenario, he was of the opinion that tides are slowly changing and there is a Japan that can say “yes”. He expressed hope that Indian Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Abe will be able to come up with a security strategy that “goes beyond their terms”.