NEW DELHI:External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj leaves for Japan Wednesday on a three-day official visit to co-chair the ninth India-Japan strategic dialogue.The visit is significant given talks about the revival of the quadrilateral dialogue between Japan, the US, Australia and India to counter China’s increasing muscle-flexing in the South China Sea, and to ensure navigation rights in the Indo-Pacific region. Japan also permanently joined the Malabar naval exercises in 2015, which India has been conducting with the US since 2002.
Soon after her return, Swaraj is also expected to visit China to participate in the foreign ministers’ meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), ahead of its summit that is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chinese city of Qingdao in June.According to an External Affairs Ministry release, Swaraj will co-chair the ninth India-Japan Strategic Dialogue with Kono on March 29, where “the two sides will review all aspects of bilateral relations and exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest.”
India and Japan concluded a Special Strategic and Global Partnership during the landmark visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan in 2014.The relationship has strengthened significantly over the last few years. In 2016, Japan signed the Indo-Japan civil nuclear deal despite India not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This will not only allow Japan to export nuclear power plant technology to India, but also help in nuclear waste management.
In what is seen as a sign of the deep friendship and trust between the two nations, Japan is the only foreign nation allowed to participate in development projects in India’s northeast, a critical part of New Delhi’s “Act East” policy, which aims to ramp up economic, cultural and political connectivity linkages between the region and southeast Asia.“Bilateral relations have been strengthened in diverse sectors in recent years. The visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India in September 2017 has given fresh impetus to the ties,” the MEA said.