Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan may give a hard time to Japan’s strategic rival China. India and Japan have signed high-speed railway contract. This is a great opportunity offer for Japan and no other Asian countries offer more opportunity than India.
On Friday Mr. Modi to meet with PM Shinzo Abe and almost one year after the Indian PM chose Japan as a partner for a 980 billion rupee ($15 billion) rail which link between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Abe is optimistic about the strategy that it would make Japan the front-runner if India implements five other lines.
Director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus, Jeff Kingston said, “The ‘Rail Wars’ between China and Japan are a battle for influence in the region that is way more important than just sales and profits.” He added, “Modi would prefer to play one off the other and see what he can get for India, but geostrategically his government is leaning towards the U.S. and Japan.”
China and Japan’s economic competition for high-speed rail contacts has been intense. Last year, China beat Japan for a high-speed line in Indonesia. The two rivals set to face off again over a proposed Singapore-Kuala Lumpur link. China’s proposal to build a link in Thailand fell through this year and Vietnam’s national assembly rejected Japan’s plan in Vietnam. Taiwan’s Japan sponsored plan was a flop and the government bailed out this last year.
India and Japan’s friendship got strong during the time of Manmohan Singh and Modi strengthen it more.
China and South China Sea
PM Abe often spoke to Modi about China’s aggression over the South China Sea and the north Pacific. Abe tried to make an alliance. Japan, US, India and Australia tried to foil Chinese moves but didn’t work.
China’s state-controlled media warned India not to involve in the South China Sea dispute. The Global Times said that by involving in the dispute it “might end up being up a pawn of the US and suffer great losses, especially in terms of business and trade from China. India won’t benefit much by balancing China through Japan. It will only lead to more mistrust between New Delhi and Beijing.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang said on Thursday that it had no issue with Japan and India developing normal relations but they should “legitimate concerns” of their neighbor. He stated to media, “We hope that when they develop their relationships, they can respect legitimate concerns of their neighbors and contribute to regional peace and stability.”
During Modi’s visit, the two nations are close to signing a long pending nuclear deal. The deal allowed Japan to sell nuclear reactors to New Delhi. Though, Indian officials have not confirmed it yet. Vikas Swarup, Ministry of External affairs spokesperson said, “The negotiations have dragged on for over six years since 2010. After the Fukushima radiation leak in 2011, the negotiations halted, but were taken up again when Abe came to power.”
Not only nuclear reactors but India is likely to order amphibious aircrafts from Japan for the Navy and the Coast Guard.
Modi plans to spend 8.5 trillion rupees by 2020 for new tracks, bullet trains and modern stations. Japan agreed to provide loans to cover up 81 percent of the cost.
This is a big opportunity for Japan to work on India’s high-speed rail project. Hiroto Izumi, an adviser to the PM said that if Japan will work on the first plan then India is likely to give other high-speed rail projects. He stated, “With urban railways, you can have various different plans mixed up together, but with high-speed rail, I don’t think you would have several different systems in one country.”
On Saturday, Modi will travel to Kobe by Shinkansen bullet train where he will visit a Kawasaki Heavy rolling stock factory. PM Abe will accompany him.