Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Modi's Japan visit a tale of promises

By Swaran Singh (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-04 07:45

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Japan this week will be remembered for sweet tweets, temples visits, warm bear hugs and promises of Japanese investment and technology transfer. The visit, however, failed to clinch the much-hyped Indo-Japanese deals on nuclear cooperation, state-of-art US-2 amphibious planes and even a fast-train project linking Mumbai to Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat province which Modi ruled as chief minister from 2001 to 2014, when he became India's prime minister.

Although Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put the prefix of "special" to their Strategic Global Partnership, they failed to upgrade their "two-plus-two" format of security talks from official to ministerial level.

Modi's Japan visit a tale of promises

What really stood out was the display of excellent bonhomie and personal chemistry of the two strong, pro-business nationalist leaders committed to reviving their countries' economies and prestige. Since the two countries' geopolitical locations book-ends a rising China and other complementarities - like Japan looking for markets and infrastructure projects and India for investment and technology transfers - the two leaders' meeting heralded a kind of new stage in Indo-Japanese ties.

Many media outlets interpret that the unprecedented rise of China as Asia's top power - and that India and Japan both have territorial disputes with China - has been pushing the second- and third-largest economies of Asia into a huddle, with the United States being their invisible ally. India seems enthused to be the third player in this US-Japan-India strategic partnership.

Modi's efforts to make pleasing innuendoes on "intrusion" and "expansionism" for his Japanese audience, particularly his offer to set up a special management team that would include two Japanese nominees in his office to clear Japanese projects - an unprecedented and surprising offer for most foreign policy watchers in India - failed to illicit a Japanese "yes" for any major deal on nuclear reactors, defense imports or fast-train technologies.

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