PM Shinzo Abe's exit unlikely to change India-Japan equations : The Tribune India

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PM Shinzo Abe's exit unlikely to change India-Japan equations

Deputy PM Taro Aso could be a stop-gap arrangement till next election

PM Shinzo Abe's exit unlikely to change India-Japan equations

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. Reuters file



Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28

The resignation of India-friendly Japanese PM Shinzo Abe on health grounds may lead to a slight rearranging of the diplomatic calendar but is unlikely to alter the chemistry in bilateral ties that have been on an upswing for 15 years, said sources.

Though Abe has declined to endorse a successor, sources said all the probable candidates have favoured close security and trade ties with India at a time when both countries are grappling with an aggressive China. Japan, under Abe, was among the first countries to back India during the Doklam incident.

As an elderly politician, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso could be a stop-gap arrangement till the next elections when Shinjiro Koizumi from the young brigade and Fumio Kishida, Taro Kono and Yoshihide Suga among the seniors will stake claim.

All of them have a consensus on parking Japan’s huge surplus in Indian mega projects and in mirroring the US moves to forge closer security and defence ties, said sources.

Giving an example of the unanimity on deployment of Japanese capital, the sources said it was PM Junichiro Koizumi, the father of current Cabinet Minister Shinjiro, who pushed for the Bullet Train project. Finally, it was Abe who clinched it after 15 years.

There was a time when Indian resisted the Bullet Train project. Japanese political class unanimously agreed to finance the dedicated freight corridor projects instead. Then PM and current contender Taro Aso had approved the massive funding for the project, even if it led to the Japanese temporarily shelving their plan to fund the Bullet Train project.

Other possible successors such as Fumio Kishida and Yoshihide Suga have worked too closely with Abe’s foreign policy approach for the last eight years to effect a substantial shift.

In defence as well, there has been erosion of resistance within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to changing the pacifist Constitution. As a result, Abe ensured that his successors will continue to strengthen defences and boost military spending. But with India, ties in this sphere have not gone beyond warm words, joint naval exercises and diplomatic consultations on South China Sea at the Quad level.

Abe’s successor is unlikely to deviate from this path and will be willing to sign a logistic sharing arrangement with India to push it forward, said sources while pointing out that the resignation took interlocutors by surprise as they were aiming at an Abe-Modi summit via videoconferencing on September 10.


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