By Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi
As the global geo-politics is shifting towards East far away from the traditional Anglo-American hub of power and the US’ Asia pivot has already set the stage for accentuated power rivalry in the Asian region between itself and China and also with the rest of prominent powers in the greater Asian region viz. Japan, Australia and India etc., the only available option that the region ought to exercise is the revival of the “Broader Asia” proposals, once advocated by the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe, seeking for a ‘Quadrilateral’ linking of Japan, Australia and India with that of America.
Because it still holds even today, given the rising Chinese assertions and aggressive postures as regards its undue sovereign claims over entire South China Sea and other territorial disputes with India and the South East Asian nations adversely affecting their interests, particularly Philippines, Vietnam and India and also over uninhabited but disputed Senkaku-Diaoyu islands in East China Sea whereupon China has reacted angrily to the claims extended by Japan.
In fact, the amazing economic progress achieved by the countries of East Asia and Asia-Pacific region, particularly by China, and also due to gradual decline of the US and the fall of Western Europe, the region appears to have turned the tide decisively as an economic and political force almost after two hundred years leading to the resurgence of Asia. But the rising imperialist assertions accompanied by awesome military might of China is a cause of concern not only for India but to the entire region as well as the whole world, because it has emerged not only as the fast growing economic power, surpassing even Germany and Japan and stands next to the US in its economic stature but also as a potential military threat to all. It is also nourishing the dream of becoming a dominant super power by replacing the US in order to become the next hegemon in succession to the UK in the recent past.
In the specific context of India-Japan relations, the ‘Broader Asia’ approach as conceived by Mr. Abe imparts a strategic dimension to the dynamic coupling of the Pacific Ocean with that of the Indian Ocean about which he had said in the Indian Parliament in August 2007, “as seas of freedom and of prosperity. A ‘Broader Asia’ that broke away geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form. Our two countries have the ability – and the responsibility- to ensure that it broadens yet further and to nurture and enrich these seas to become the seas of clearest transparence.”
As is evident in these words that by seeking the confluence of the two seas- the Pacific and the India Oceans in the same way as Hillary Clinton’s idea of the “Indo-Pacific”- Mr. Abe wished for value-based framework of bi-lateral relations, in conformity with the spirit of freedom, democracy, and the respect for basic human rights as well as strategic interests, between India and Japan for pursing their respective national interests so that they may survive even bad weather of the adverse times. The Japanese diplomacy is now promoting various concepts in a host of different areas so that a region called ‘the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity’ will be formed along the outer rim of the Eurasian continent. The Strategic Global Partnership of Japan and India is pivotal for such pursuits to be successful.
With this bold vision of Mr. Abe, set out in his brief first term, the Japanese diplomacy could not go ahead because it scared many in Japan who had invested heavily in their trade relations with China, and that also worried his successor P.M. Yasuo Fukuda, who quickly retreated from Mr. Abe’s bold perspective lest it might provoke China in face of the Japan’s assertion of democracy as an important factor in the Asian diplomacy.
For India, Mr. Abe’s new inning is likely to create a more favourable environment not only for economic and scientific cooperation but also for the crucial civilian nuclear and defence cooperation as regards energy and national security. Obviously, India and Japan are truly natural partners in Asia because their ties have deep civilizational roots reflecting their increasingly shared vision of a Rising Asia and a strong commitment to democratic values. As Asia’s most advanced techno-economy, Japan can help India’s overall economic development and India can also offer to Japan, both a big market of over a billion and the world’s largest pool of manpower. Even as India prepares for a tighter embrace with Japan as a valued partner, it should, at the same time, never dilute its on-going efforts to improve relations with China and, the same, perhaps, holds for Japan.
Against this scenario, the so-evolved India-Japan bi-lateral cooperation may, in all likelihood, result not only towards “Broader Asia” of P.M. Mr. Shinzo Abe- as an arc of freedom and prosperity in the East- but also as a strong regional bulwark against China, not with a view to harm but only to restrain it (China) from its irresponsible misadventures in the region. This is very necessary for sake of peace and security of not only the region but also for the whole world in the 21st century which is being characterised as that of Asia.
(Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi is an Associate Professor (Political Science) in the M. D. P. G. College, PRATAPGARH (UP). He can be contacted at [email protected])