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India-Japan-US ties key to Indo-Pacific stability: Philanthropist

January 29
12:55 2019

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) A stable relationship between India, Japan and the US will be the key to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, according to an eminent Japanese philanthropist.

Speaking at a panel discussion on “Can the India-Japan partnership be a factor of stability in an uncertain world?” organised by the Ananta Aspen Centre here on Monday evening, Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, said that a stable relationship between the key stakeholders was necessary for a stable Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s growing footprint in the region.

“India, Japan and the US are important countries of this region… and recently Australia too joined these three countries,” he said.

India, the US, Japan and Australia revived a quad in 2017 that seeks to work for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, a region that stretches from the east coast of Japan to the east coast of Africa.

This comes in the face of Beijing’s growing influence in the region and Beijing’s belligerence n the South China Sea.

Sasakawa said that the quad’s work was not going to be easy because of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“Under the BRI, Sri Lanka has handed over the Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease. In the South Pacific, Tonga with which Japan has a very good relationship, is trapped by Chinese ODA (Overseas Development Aid) loans,” he said.

Sasakawa also referred to Beijing’s growing influence in the Maldives and Chinese ODA loans to come to African countries and warned that it might be already too late to contain China.

Speaking on the occasion, Sikkim’s lone Lok Sabha MP P.D. Rai referred to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Report 2019 which saw more instability in the world and said that the world was trying to contain China in an uncertain way.

With the general election around the corner, Rai said that the world will look at India, the great democracy, and how it continues with its democratic traditions.

He described the long relationship between India and Japan as “a bedrock of stability”, adding that “it will bring a lot of stability in South Asia and East Asia”.

Referring to Japan’s development aid work in northeast India, Rai said New Delhi had a strong partner in the region.

“Japan plays a significant and strategic role in the northeast. The economic ties that bring us together will play an important role here.”

Founding Trustee of the Ananta Aspen Centre and former Director General CII Tarun Das stressed on the importance of a Track II dialogue between India and Japan.

Das recalled former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking the Centre in 2005 to start an unofficial dialogue with Japan on the lines of what it did with the US in the years prior to that.

“But the road to Tokyo was not direct and we had to go via Washington. We started the dialogue on a trilateral basis and only later it became bilateral.”

Stating that this new initiative at both the government and non-government levels was only a decade old, Das said that both India and Japan were trying to build maritime, defence and nuclear cooperation under this.

“We have to work together to counter China,” he stated.

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