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Lecture by H.E. Mr. Sujan R. Chinoy,
Hon’ble Ambassador of India to Japan
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
18 May 2016
India – Japan Relations
Prof. Hirotaka TATEISHI, President, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Prof. Kayoko HAYASHI, Executive Director & Vice-President,
Prof. Minoru IWASAKI, Executive Director & Vice-President
Prof. Fumiyasu HIRASHITA, Secretary General,
- Thank you all for inviting me to speak to you today at this prestigious academic institution. You at TUFS have a formidable reputation for excellence in foreign languages and international affairs. Your alumni have made their mark in all walks of life. I congratulate you on your achievements.
- Learning and the pursuit of knowledge should be a life-long endeavour. Knowledge emancipates the mind and promotes harmony. This is important since we live a globalised world and cross-cultural understanding and acceptance of the human race as one single family.
- Since I am communicating with you for the first time, I must also mention that my first introduction to Japan took place when I was a young University student. I have fond memories of my visit to Japan in 1978 as an Exchange Student at the Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka. Then, as now, I find Japan to be an enchanting place, with great natural beauty and friendly people. Japan epitomizes the zenith of technological advances, skills, innovation, social order and environmental consciousness. We in India deeply admire Japan’s achievements and its immense capabilities in every field. For India, Japan is a true friend and a key economic partner. There is convergence in our outlook regarding the Indo-Pacific region. We have a shared commitment to democracy, openness, inclusiveness, and, respect for the rule of law.
- I have been asked to make a brief presentation on India-Japan relations. I think it would be appropriate to preface my comments with an introduction to my country, India.
- As you all know, India is one of the world’s oldest civilisations, which gave rise to ancient religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. In fact, India is home to other religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism. Buddhism spread from India to East Asia, and reached Japan both directly as well as through the medium of China. Ancient India was well-versed in science, astronomy, medicine and many other fields. The concept of ‘zero’ and the decimal system were products of Indian genius. India gave to the world the values of peace, non-violence and co-existence. Over past millennia, many a conqueror coveted the riches of India but none could conquer Indian culture, traditions or philosophy. Even those that came with a sword were soon assimilated into India’s composite and inclusive culture. History is also replete with examples of India giving refuge to those fleeing persecution in their own lands.
- We take pride in our unity in diversity. India is the world’s seventh-largest country. It has 1.2 billion people, of which 600 million are below the age of 25 years. India has 29 States and 7 Union Territories. Our Constitution recognises 23 official languages, including Hindi and English.
- During the 17th century, India was one of the richest countries in the world, before the colonial yoke and exploitation enfeebled her. Since independence in 1947, India has made notable achievements in diverse fields, including atomic energy, space science, agriculture, bio-technology and, of course, information technology, for which India is well-known the world over.
- You would agree that there is good economic news coming out of India against a bleak scenario elsewhere. The news is not only about India as an Incredible Country, but also about India as a very Credible Country. The growing convergence between Japan and India on strategic and economic issues under our Special Strategic and Global Partnership has served to stimulate interest in India’s economy. Japanese companies are now serious about investing in India, whether in greenfield or brownfield projects, whether in infrastructure or e-commerce, or in equity and insurance.
- There is obviously a good reason for this new optimism about India. The formation of a new Government in India in 2014 led to heightened expectations about India’s growth prospects. In 2015, the Indian economy grew faster than other emerging economies and the World Bank has projected that it will be the world’s fastest growing large economy in 2016 at a growth rate of 7.5 per cent. Future growth is expected to be even higher. Lower labour costs, the large domestic market and macro-economic stability combine to make India a very attractive investment destination.
- India’s GDP is already the third-largest in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). India will soon overtake China as the most populous country in the world. With half of India’s population, that is 600 million people, below the age of 25 years, and about 550 million people as the labour force, India has abundant and youthful human resources. Others, including China, grapple with an aging population and labour shortages. India is the only one among the BRICS nations that is expected by Goldman Sachs to maintain a steady growth rate of well over 5 per cent right up to the middle of the century, making it then the world’s second-largest economy in nominal terms as well.
- Over the past sixty-five years, the Constitution of India has provided a firm foundation for our unshakeable faith in democracy, which is rooted in the ethos of India’s ancient civilization. India’s traditions of peace and non-violence, acceptance and tolerance, have withstood the test of time. We have reason to be proud of our accomplishments. We are the world’s most populous democracy. In the last general elections in 2014, we had 814 million registered voters and about 540 million people actually cast their votes in the world’s largest election ever to be conducted. We have reason to draw further inspiration from our own mature political processes and the ongoing social and economic transformation.
- The new government led by PM Modi has made it clear that creating an enabling environment for business and attracting investments is its top priority. The environment for ‘doing business’ in India is being continuously improved by ushering in stable, predictable and transparent regulations, reducing the time for registration of businesses and increasing the spread of e-governance. ‘Red carpet’ has replaced ‘red tape’. The buzzword is “Less Government, More Governance”. The Companies Act has been amended and the tax structure is being rationalized to change perceptions regarding India’s tax policy. A national consensus is being built to amend the constitution to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the near future. You can imagine, when all the reforms set into motion are fully achieved, India’s GDP growth will be even higher.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, relations between Japan and India are unique and special. Japan is one of the few countries with which we have an annual summit between the two heads of government. It was a great honour for all Indians that Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress visited India in November 2013 for a weeklong state visit to commemorate the 60thanniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties that took place in 2012. The visit took place 53 years after their first official trip to India in 1960 as the then Crown Prince and Crown Princess, and was the first ever to India by Japan’s Emperor and Empress.
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day Parade in 2014. Prime Minister Abe, a great champion of India-Japan ties, further cemented our “Special Strategic & Global Partnership” through his most successful visit to India from 11-13 December 2015. That his recent visit took place within days of my arrival in Japan as the Ambassador of India is a matter of personal privilege for me. His visit has imparted fresh momentum to our relationship, building further on the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan in September 2014.
- The strong commitment of Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Modi has put our relationship onto a higher pedestal. Our traditionally warm and friendly relations are cemented by close historical bonds forged on the anvil of Hindu-Buddhist thought and shared values.
- Despite the great geographical distance between us, there were many exchanges in past centuries, the most important of which is the arrival from India in 752 AD of the Buddhist monk Bodhisena for the eye-opening ceremony of the great Buddha statue of Todaiji in Nara. Bodhidharma, who founded Zen Buddhism in China, was an Indian monk, known in Japan as Daruma. Our cultural similarities extend to Shintoism, which shares three of its seven lucky Gods with India. These are Benzaiten (Saraswati), Daikokuten (Shiva) and Bishamonten (Kubera). Other Hindu Gods and Goddesses such as Ganesh (Shoten) and Laxmi (Daibenkudoku-ten) are also present in Japan. The great genius of Japan, known as Kukoi or Kobotaishi, brought the Lotus Sutras of Buddhism from Xian in China and along with it also the Indian Siddham letters called Shittam in Japanese. The Hiragana and Katagana phonetic scripts are very akin to the Sanskrit alphabet. There is similarity in our grammatical syntax. There is similarity in our musical instruments such as the Indian Veena and the Japanese Biwa, and in our sculptures, as a result of the Buddhist influence.
- In the contemporary age, we have an equally strong convergence in our strategic outlook and our economic future as well.
- There is also an ambitious programme underway for infrastructure creation and renewal in India. Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) is an important source of finance for many of these priority sectors. The cumulative commitment of such ODA loans to India by JICA has crossed $ 40 billion. In fact, India is the largest ODA partner now for Japan. Japan has committed a total of JPY 390 billion in the financial year which ended on 31 March 2016, which is the highest amount committed in any single year. In 2014, Prime Minister Abe also committed to doubling Japanese investments in India within five years to 3.5 trillion yen.
- JBIC Surveys for 2014 and 2015 have ranked India as the most preferred destination for Japanese manufacturing companies. Japanese companies have invested $ 19 billion in India since the year 2000, making Japan the India's 4th largest foreign investor. The annual flow of FDI from Japan to India has now topped US $ 2 billion. Japanese companies such as Softbank are making huge investments in India whether in e-commerce or electronics and R&D.
- Japanese companies are not only focused on the Indian market but also on India’s huge potential as a global manufacturing hub. A good case in point of this strategy is Suzuki Motor Corporation which recently set up a third automobile plant in Gujarat state in India an also launched the first 100 % ‘Made in India’ Suzuki car in the Japanese market.
- The shift in perception regarding India’s economic future is widespread. The short point is that at a time when traditional engines of growth continue to falter, and when the Chinese economy appears to have entered a cycle of prolonged economic downturn, India by contrast is characterized by a booming market fueled by bold policy decisions and the growth of an aspirational middle class. Combining Japan’s capital and technology with India’s rich human resources and skills makes for a winning combination for both countries. Just as twenty years ago it was necessary for global business to be part of the Chinese economy, today it is equally important to be part of the Indian economy as part of a global risk mitigation strategy.
- Profitable sectors in India that could attract Japanese investment include Smart Cities, highways, railways, ports, new and renewable energy and industrial parks. Mining, Power, Steel and Oil & Gas are clearly areas of interest. The mega infrastructure projects of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Chennai Bangalore Industrial Corridor (CBIC) and the Shinkansen High Speed Railway between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, as well as the Metro Rail projects in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Chennai offer unprecedented opportunities for Japanese industry.
- The high-speed rail project in particular is expected spawn new industry and supply chains ranging from demand for special steel products to electronics. 80% of the Shinkansen project worth US $ 18 billion will be funded by ODA financing by Japan. Another US $12 billion was announced by Japan during Prime Minister Abe’s visit in December last as a special fund to encourage “Make In India” by Japanese companies.
- A great deal can be achieved by encouraging Japanese companies and funds to invest in equity in Government of India’s assets identified for disinvestment. These brownfield projects would offer a clear advantage to corporate Japan in terms of markets, supply chains and regulatory compliance.
- The Memorandum we signed on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation is a shining symbol of a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership in the cause of a peaceful and secure world.
- The announcement by Prime Minister Modi of India of “visa on arrival” scheme for all Japanese travellers, including visitors on business, from 1 March 2016, will further promote engagement at all levels.
- The year 2015 was very active and productive for our bilateral relations. We have seen the surge in bilateral exchanges, including railways, defence and science & technology. The growing cooperation between prefectures such as Kyoto, Toyama and Hyogo with states in India is very welcome and mutually beneficial.
- The year 2016 is already off to a good start, with back-to-back visits by the Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy of India for the 8th Round of the Energy Dialogue and that of the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Haryana to explore business and investments tie-ups. Our cultural linkages remain robust, with the Minister of State for Home (Interior) participating in the second meeting of the jointly initiated Samvad Conference on ‘Shared Values and Democracy in Asia’ in Tokyo. This month we had the second meeting in Tokyo of the Joint Committee implementing the Shinkansen project. The Chief Justice of India is visiting Japan this week. The Finance Minister of India will come at the end of this month. MEXT Minister Mr. Hiroshi Hase visited India earlier this month. All this will lead up to the next summit meeting during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan later this year.
- As Prime Minister Modi said during Prime Minister Abe’s recent visit to India in December 2015, one cannot think of a strategic partnership that can exercise a more profound influence on shaping the course of Asia and our interlinked ocean regions than ours. No partner has played such a decisive role in India’s economic transformation as has Japan. No friend will matter more in realizing India’s economic dreams than Japan. There exists unmatched public goodwill and political consensus in India for our Special Strategic and Global Partnership.
- Let us work together to take our friendship and partnership to new heights and to realise the full potential of our partnership.