Bilateral Brief Bilateral Brief

Bilateral Brief

India-Japan Bilateral Relations

Friendship between India and Japan has a long history, rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilizational ties. India’s earliest documented direct contact with Japan was with the Todaiji Temple in Nara, where the consecration or eye-opening of the towering statue of lord Buddha was performed by an Indian monk, Bodhisena, in 752 AD. In contemporary times, prominent Indians associated with Japan were Swami Vivekananda, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, entrepreneur JRD Tata, freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Justice Radha Binod Pal. The Japan-India Association set up in 1903 is the oldest international friendship body in Japan. Post World War-II, India did not attend the San Francisco Conference but decided to conclude a separate peace treaty with Japan in 1952, marking a defining moment in the bilateral relations and setting the tone for the future. The sole dissenting voice of Justice Radha Binod Pal at the War Crimes Tribunal struck a deep chord among the Japanese public, that continues to reverberate to this day.

2. India and Japan established diplomatic relations on 28 April 1952. Prior to this, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1949 donated an Indian elephant to the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo which was greatly appreciated by the Japanese people. In the first decade after diplomatic ties were established, several high-level exchanges took place, including Japanese Prime Minister KISHI Nobusuke’s visit to India in 1957, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Japan the same year, and President Rajendra Prasad’s visit to Japan in 1958. Japan started providing yen loans to India in 1958. The India visit of Their Highnesses, the then Japanese Crown Prince AKIHITO and Crown Princess Michiko in 1960 elevated the relations to a new level. A test of the reliability of Japan as a friend was witnessed in 1991, when Japan was among the few countries that contributed in bailing India out of the balance of payment crisis.

3. The India visit of the Japanese Prime Minister MORI Yoshiro in 2000 led to a significant and qualitative shift in India-Japan relations with the establishment of ‘Global Partnership’ between the two sides. Transformation of the bilateral ties was further strengthened by the decision to have annual summits between the Prime Ministers commencing 2006 when both sides established ‘Strategic and Global Partnership’. India's rapidly growing economy with new economic opportunities have caught the attention of Japanese corporate sector.

4. The year 2013 was a monumental year that saw the first ever visit of the then Emperor AKIHITO and Empress MICHIKO to India (30 November-6 December 2013). Within months after this landmark visit of the imperial couple, PM ABE Shinzo paid an official visit to India in January 2014 during which he was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations (first ever Japanese PM to be the Chief Guest). PM Narendra Modi’s official visit to Japan in August-September 2014 for the Annual Summit meeting (his first bilateral visit outside India’s neighbourhood) upgraded bilateral relations to ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’.

5. PM Modi’s visit to Japan on 28-29 October 2018 for the 13th Annual Summit provided further impetus to bilateral ties, building upon the momentum created by his earlier visits to Japan in 2014 and 2016, as well as the visits of PM ABE to India in 2015 and 2017. During the Summit, both PMs outlined the shared vision for future India-Japan relations. In a special gesture, our PM was hosted by PM ABE for a private dinner at his ancestral home in Yamanashi, the first such reception to be extended to a foreign leader. Japan’s announcement of joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Exchange of Notes concerning the provision of seven Yen loan projects including the Project for the Construction of MAHSR (High Speed Rail), Currency Swap Agreement, India-Japan Digital Partnership and Implementing Arrangement for deeper cooperation between Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and Indian Navy, and MOC on Healthcare were among the 32 MoUs/Agreements signed during the summit. During the visit, 57 Japanese companies announced to make investments worth US$ 2.5 billion in India and 15 Indian companies announced to make investments in Japan.

6. PM Modi visited Japan on 27-29 June 2019 to participate in G20 Summit held in Osaka. On the sidelines, he held a bilateral meeting with PM ABE and discussed broad range of topics of mutual interest. Thereafter, PM ABE and PM Modi also met on the sidelines of G7 Summit in Biarritz (August 2019), Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok (September 2019), and ASEAN-related summit meetings in Bangkok (November 2019). After PM ABE’s announcement of his decision to step down in August 2020, a telephone call was held between him and PM Modi on 10 September 2020, during which, the two leaders appreciated the friendship and relationship of trust between the two countries. They welcomed the signing of Agreement Concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces (so-called "Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement", or ACSA) on 9 September 2020.

7. PM SUGA Yoshihide and PM Modi held a telephone summit meeting on 25 September 2020. During the call, the leaders agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in the fields of security and economic cooperation. They also affirmed their intention to steadily advance the High Speed Rail project and facilitate people-to-people exchanges looking ahead at the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India in 2022.

8. Hon’ble President Ram Nath Kovind visited Japan on 21-23 October 2019 to attend the Enthronement Ceremony of the Emperor of Japan, His Majesty NARUHITO. During his visit, Hon’ble President attended various ceremonies related to the Emperor's enthronement and a banquet hosted by Prime Minister ABE.

9. Apart from the Annual Summits, Foreign Ministers Bilateral Strategic Dialogue, Defense Ministers Meeting, NSA-level Dialogue, 2+2 Ministerial Meeting, FOC Consultations and other bilateral dialogue mechanisms ensure regular high level functional engagements. Bilateral Strategic Dialogue led by Foreign Ministers was held on 29 June 2019 on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Osaka, and Defense Ministerial Meeting was held on 2 September 2019 in Tokyo. India-Japan Foreign Ministers’ meeting was also held on 26 September 2019 on the sidelines of 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, followed by a meeting in Nagoya on the sidelines of G20 Foreign Minister’s meeting held on 22-23 November 2019. Japanese Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu and Defense Minister KONO Taro visited India for the first India-Japan 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting held in New Delhi on 30 November 2019. Secretary General of National Security Secretariat of Japan KITAMURA Shigeru visited India to hold NSA level dialogue in November 2019. On 7 November 2019, MoS for External Affairs Shri V Muraleedharan met NAKATANI Shinichi, Parliamentary Vice Minister for External Affairs of Japan on the sidelines of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in Abu Dhabi. Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla visted Japan to participate in G20 Speakers Summit in November 2019. EAM visited Tokyo on 6-7 October 2020 for attending the FM level India-Japan-Australia-US Quad meeting, and held the latest round of FM-level Bilateral Strategic Dialogue on the sidelines

also held on 26 September 2019 on the sidelines of 74th Session of the United Nations .

10. Other bilateral dialogues: Act East Forum, established in 2017, aims to provide a platform for India-Japan collaboration under the rubric of India’s “Act East Policy” and Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision”. The Forum identifies specific projects for economic modernization of India’s North-East region. The latest and 5th meeting of the Act East Forum was held on 28 January 2021 in New Delhi. The inaugural India-Japan Space Dialogue was held in New Delhi on 8 March 2019 for enhancing bilateral cooperation in outer space and information exchange on respective space policies. The 3rd round of Cyber Dialogue was held in February 2019 in Tokyo; 5th round of India-Japan Maritime Affairs Dialogue and 8th round of Bilateral Consultations on Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Export Control were held in December 2019 in Tokyo; 3rd round of consultations on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was held in February 2020 in Tokyo.

Defense Relations

11. India-Japan Defense and Security partnership has evolved over the years and today forms an integral pillar of bilateral ties. Our exchanges have strengthened due to growing convergence on strategic matters; and its significance is growing from the common outlook on issues of peace, security and stability of the Indo-Pacific Region. The Tri-Service Exchanges between Japan and India have been institutionalized completing the triad. Coast Guards have regular annual exchanges since 2006.

12. A key development in 2020 was the visit of a delegation led by Adm OKUSHIMA Takahiro, Commandant Japan Coast Guard to India for the 19th Indian Coast Guards – Japan Coast Guards (ICG-JCG) High Level Meeting at New Delhi on 14 January 2020 and joint ICG-JCG exercises off Chennai held on 16 January 2020. This was followed by the India visit of Gen YAMAZAKI Koji, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff on 14-17 January 2020 to participate in the Raisina Dialogue-2020. Adm YAMAMURA Hiroshi, Chief of Staff, JMSDF visited India on an official visit on 10-12 February 2020. In the field of cooperation in defense technology, the 5th JWG-DETC meeting was held at Tokyo on 18-19 February 2020. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, various defence engagements have been conducted virtually recently, including frequent exchanges at the highest level. In spite of the pandemic, complex exercises in all domains were conducted including MALABAR 2020, JIMEX 2020 and PASSEX, showcasing the trust and interoperability between the navies. The 4th Air Force to Air Force Staff Talks were held through VTC on 2 November and 5 November 2020. The importance of deepening relations between the armed forces was on display with the visit of General IZUTSU Shunji, Chief of Staff, JASDF to India on 9-10 December 2020.

Economic and Commercial relations

13. Japan is regarded as a key partner in India’s economic transformation. Japan's interest in India is increasing due to a variety of reasons including India's large and growing market and its resources, especially the human resources. Japan’s bilateral trade with India totaled US$ 16.95 billion in FY 2019-20. Exports from Japan to India during this period were US$ 12.43 billion and imports were US$ 4.52 billion. India’s primary exports to Japan are petroleum products, chemicals, elements, compounds, non-metallic mineral ware, fish & fish preparations, metalliferous ores & scrap, clothing & accessories, iron & steel products, textile yarn, fabrics and machinery etc. India’s primary imports from Japan are machinery, electrical machinery, iron and steel products, plastic materials, non-ferrous metals, parts of motor vehicles, organic chemicals, etc.

14. Investment and ODA: From 2000 until September 2020, the Japanese investments in India cumulatively stands at around US$ 34.152 billion (Japan ranks fifth among the largest source of investment). Japanese FDI during FY 2019-2020 increased to US$ 3.226 billion compared to US$ 2.96 billion in FY 2018-19. The number of Japanese companies registered in India stands at more than 1460. Similarly, number of Indian companies operating in Japan is also increasing, with the number now over 100. Japan has been extending bilateral loans and grant assistance to India since 1958 and is the largest bilateral donor for India. Japanese ODA supports India’s efforts for accelerated economic development, particularly in priority areas like power, transportation, environment and social sector. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail, Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) with twelve industrial townships, Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) are some mega project with Japanese cooperation on the anvil. Japan’s ODA commitment in FY 2019-20 was JPY 374.44 billion, and in FY 2020-21 is JPY 350 billion (approx).

15. India-Japan Digital Partnership (IJDP) and Start-up Hub: In view of synergies and complementarities between the two nations, “India-Japan Digital Partnership” (I-JDP) was launched during the visit of PM Modi to Japan in October 2018, furthering existing areas of cooperation as well as new initiatives within the scope of cooperation in IT, focusing more on “Digital ICT Technologies”. During the then Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Hiroshige Seko’s visit to India in May 2018, both sides signed Joint Statement on Japan-India Startup Initiative setting up the first India-Japan Startup Hub in Bangalore by JETRO to identify selected Indian start-ups for Japanese market and for potential Japanese investors. The MOC on Digital Partnership envisaged cooperation in five sub-areas: 1) Start-up Initiative, 2) Corporate Partnership, 3) ESDM promotion, 4) Digital talent exchange, 5) R&D Cooperation and 6) Security related strategic collaboration.

16. In recent years, several activities have been conducted under the Digital Partnership by both government agencies and private sector with the support of both governments and this partnership has achieved significant outcomes. Under the Start-up promotion program. Embassy has organized various pitching events (physical and virtual) in collaboration with NASSCOM and Start up India and since September 2019 till 31 January 2021, about 100 start-ups have pitched using these platforms and several of these have raised investment or entered into technical/ business collaboration with Japanese counterparts. An Indo-Japan fund-of-funds (FoF) of about $187 million (Rs 1,298 crore) was launched which already has raised $100 million to invest in technology startups in India. 7th JWG on IT & Electronics/ Digital Partnership was held on two days across 4 sessions on Sept 9 and 10, 2020 ‘on-line’ between MeitY, India and METI, Japan with participation of relevant government and Industry stakeholders. The JWG reviewed the progress made under the "India-Japan Digital Partnership". 6th Japan-India ICT Joint Working Group (JWG) between DOT, India and MIC, Japan was held by virtual mode on 8 December 2020 in which both sides discussed cooperation in the field of 5G, IOT standards for Smart City, Telecom security and application of emergent technologies in ICT. Memorandum of Cooperation on comprehensive ICT cooperation between MOC (Ministry of Communication, India) and MIC, Japan was signed on 15 January 2021. MOC in Cybersecurity (between MEA and MOFA) has also been finalized.

17. Disaster Risk Reduction: Following the 2017 MoC in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction, the Cabinet Office of Japan and Ministry of Home Affairs of India jointly organized a series of workshops to exchange information on policy and measures on disaster risk reduction, and to enhance cooperation between Japan and India. The first workshop was held in March 2018 in New Delhi; the second in October 2018 in Tokyo and the third in March 2019 in New Delhi. As an outcome of the third workshop, an Agreement on joint research in the field of Earthquake Disaster Prevention was signed between Fujita Corporation and Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-R). Following the launch of CDRI (Coalition of Disaster Resilience Initiative), Japan announced to join it, becoming our important partner not only for bilateral cooperation in this area but for global positive influence. A series (phase-1) of three webinars were held in September 2020 by ARISE India (FICCI) and JBP on DRR theme in partnership with CDRI.

17. Skill Development: Under the India-Japan MoC signed in 2016 to train 30,000 shop floor leaders over ten years, and thereby contributing to India's flagship initiatives such as "Skill India" and "Make in India", Japanese companies have established 17 Japan-India Institute of Manufacturing (JIM) in India and 7 Japanese Endowed Courses (JEC) in Indian Engineering Colleges. Following the MoC signed between the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Japanese Ministries in October 2017, MSDE has nominated National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) as the implementing body of the Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP) in India and entrusted it with the selection of Sending Organizations (SOs) from India. MSDE and NSDC completed the first round of empanelment in March 2018, and as of December 2021, 33 Indian Organizations have been empanelled to operate as SOs for TITP. NSDC is in the process of empanelling more. In July 2018, the first group of 12 Indian interns trained by CII (an accredited SO) were accepted to train in a Japanese company under the TITP framework. As of December 2021, India has sent more than 220 technical interns under the TITP framework to Japan. An MoC between India and Japan on a Basic Framework for Partnership for Proper Operation of System Pertaining to "Specified Skilled Worker" (SSW) was signed on 18 January 2021. The MoC will further promote the movement of skilled workers from India to Japan in designated 73 operations in 14 specified industries fields/job categories.

18. Health-care: In view of the similarities and synergies between the goals and objectives of India’s AYUSHMAN Bharat Programme and Japan’s AHWIN, both sides consulted with each other to identify projects to build the narrative of AHWIN for AYUSHMAN Bharat. Both sides have subsequently concluded an MoC to formalize cooperation in the field of healthcare, which includes establishing a high-level consultative mechanism on the lines of High Speed Rail (HSR) cooperation to build robust health care partnership. Some of the areas identified for cooperation include establishment of healthcare logistics centre in India, utilization of ICT for tertiary healthcare centers, human resource development in the field of emergency and trauma care and healthcare business innovation network. Japan is supporting India to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its adverse socioeconomic impacts by extending budgetary support to the Government of India and implementing emergency response programs for the health sector.

19. Education Cooperation: Cooperation in the field of Education is an important component of India - Japan bilateral relations. A Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) in the field of Education between Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD, Govt of India and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Govt of Japan to encourage the development of contacts and cooperation between the educational institutions of the two countries and possible support for exchange of aspiring students between the two countries was signed in December 2015. As per available data, as on December 2020, there were over 300 academic and research partnerships (including student exchanges) between more than 70 universities/institutes of Japan and around 105 universities/institutes of India. These partnerships range from liberal arts to management & business studies, legal studies, international studies, linguistics, ayurveda, STEM including fast emerging frontier technologies. The students & teacher exchange and scholarship programmes, especially short-term, are enabling a large number of Indian students and teachers to visit and experience Japan and vice versa. These programmes are either sponsored by the Government of Japan or Government of India or are the result of institutional partnerships. In order to promote Japanese language education in India, in September 2017, India and Japan signed an MOC for the expansion of Japanese language education in India.

20. S&T Cooperation: Bilateral S&T cooperation was formalized through an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in 1985. Some recent initiatives include establishment of three India-Japan Joint Laboratories in the area of ICT (AI, IoT and Big Data) and initiation of Department of Science and Technology (DST)-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellowship Programme for the young researchers. JSPS has supported 277 joint projects (as of November 2019), 1534 exchange visits of scientists, 40 joint seminars/workshops, 15 Asian Academic seminars/Japan-India Forum and 17 Raman-Mizushima lectures delivered by eminent Indian and Japanese scientists. Under the MoU between DST and at KEK Tsukuba for the Indian Beam Line, India is playing a key role in the Belle II distributed GRID computing with three operational sites in India, namely IIT Guwahati, IIT Hyderabad and TIFR and in the physics program of Belle II. Under the DBT-AIST collaboration,a joint laboratory DAILAB (DBT-AIST International Laboratory for Advance Biomedicine) at Biomedical Research Institute (BRI), Tsukuba campus of AIST, Japan has been established including Nine SISTERs (Satellite International Institutes for Special Training Education and Research) Lab for drug development and therapeutic diseases in India. Under the SAKURA Science programme, 2,849 students/undergraduates/researchers including more than 850 high-school students have visited Japan for the exposure visit. ISRO and JAXA signed an MoU on 11 November 2016 to pursue future cooperative activities in the use and exploration of outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes including the Human Space Flight Programme. Also, ISRO and JAXA signed the IA on “Collaborative activities on APRSAF/SAFE Agromet project” during the APRSAF 26 at Japan in November 2019.

21. Sister-State and Sister-City Cooperation: There are growing links between Japanese prefectures/cities and Indian states/cities. As of now, 7 states and 4 cities/regions from India have partnered with prefectures/cities of Japan through MoUs to cooperate under diverse sectors.

22. Indian Community in Japan: Approximately 40,202 Indians live in Japan currently. In recent years, there has been a change in the composition of Indian community with the arrival of a large number of professionals, including IT professionals and engineers working for Indian and Japanese firms as well as professionals in management, finance, education, and S&T research.

February 2021

Useful Resources

Embassy of India, Tokyo Website:

Embassy of India, Tokyo Facebook Page:

Embassy of India, Tokyo Twitter Page:

India-Japan 2018 Vision Statement:

India-Japan Fact Sheets: