Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Shinzo Abe's landslide victory in Japan's Upper House elections on Sunday opens up the prospect of Abe becoming the first Japanese premier in a while to complete his full term, as well as giving him the opportunity to fulfil a vigorous economic and security agenda. In India, his electoral victory has not only been followed closely, but has huge implications for New Delhi's own economic and security policies.

"India took the correct decision earlier this year, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singhredefined India's Look East policy with Japan at the heart of the policy," said H K Singh, former Indian envoy to Tokyo. "India is not averse to Japan assuming a robust economic and security posture," he added. Abe's rallying slogan of "Japan is back" made many of its neighbours uncomfortable, but not India.

The Indo-Japan relationship, already in top gear, was elevated after Abe's victory earlier this year. Manmohan Singh lost no time in visiting Abe, and sources said Abe was waiting for the July endorsement from the Japanese to restart crucial nuclear negotiations with India. With Sunday's election results, Abe has emerged as one of the more powerful political leaders in his country's recent history. The nuclear agreement - vital from the Indian point of view - is necessary for New Delhi to be able to source nuclear components and reactors from other countries as well.

Abe is likely to focus on restoring Japanese economy, even though Abenomics has its sceptics in the West. India doesn't look like an attractive investment destination at present, but the strategic imperatives for both countries may prompt Abe to put his shoulder to the wheel and persuade corporate Japan to take the plunge in politically uncertain India. Abe took the first steps of positioning his security policy beyond the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute to wanting Japan to become a net provider of security in that part of the Asia-Pacific. With India taking similar steps in theIndian Ocean Region (IOR), there appears to be growing convergence between the two countries.

It will give China something to worry about and security analysts in India aver that has its own advantages.

Whether Abe can push through a stronger military policy is yet to be seen. Here, Abe's nationalist credentials have evoked a big pushback from Japan's immediate neighbours. But for much of south-east Asia and even India, a Japan with a normal military force and policy can be a balancing force in a continent where a muscular Chinese military posture is increasing worry lines, certainly in India.

Abe has indicated he may visit India before the end of the year, which would then make it the second premier-level visit in a calendar year. The Japanese emperor and empress are scheduled to visit India also at the end of the year, a trip that will certainly rile China.

Proglobalcorp welcomes Shinzo Abe is the Prime Minister of Japan on BUSINESS REBOOTS 


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