Japanâ€™s Defense Program Guidelines, FY2011 â€“ The India factor - MCSS in Taiwan Japanâ€™s Defense Program Guidelines, FY2011 â€“ The India factor Raviprasad Narayanan The release of Japanâ€™s National Defense Program Guidelines 2011 (J-NDPG -2011), reveals the institutional response it has crafted to the complex â€˜security environmentâ€™ it faces in its neighborhood. On unresolved maritime territorial disputes, Japan faces an increasingly belligerent China that is willing to escalate tensions by activating trade levers, and there also remains the unpredictability of North Korea. The decision by Japan to build a â€œDynamic Defense Forceâ€ superseding the â€œBasic Defense Force Conceptâ€ is a development that needs careful observation as it has the potential to aggravate regional tensions and contribute to a deterioration of the security situation in Northeast Asia, if not properly explained. It also does not help that the region lacks a concrete security mechanism to deal with issues and the fact that â€˜historical memoryâ€™ is a convenient tool to throw into the cocktail. Does India come in to the National Defense Program Guidelines? Yes. In the (J-NDPG -2011), Section 4 (3) on â€œMulti-layered Security Cooperation with the International Communityâ€ carries a sentence that states â€œJapan will enhance security cooperation with countries such as the Republic of Korea, Australia, ASEAN countries and India.â€ The importance of this sentence is that it encourages Japan to intensify the existing strategic partnership it has with India. A new framework of cooperation between Japan and India is being built around the two pillars of â€˜Strategic Partnershipâ€™ and â€˜Security Cooperation.â€™ Indeed in October 2008, the Joint Statements on â€œAdvancement of the Strategic and Global Partnership between Japan and Indiaâ€ and â€œJoint Declaration on Security Cooperation between Japan and Indiaâ€ were basic building blocks that were followed by the â€œJoint Statement Vision for Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership in the Next Decadeâ€ that was signed in October 2010. Lending substance to the relationship is the Japan-India Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) also signed in October 2010 that is expected to reduce Japanâ€™s economic over-reliance on China in the medium to long term. With India fast emerging as a market for Japanese products and investments, two way trade between the two countries is substantially expected to go up from the current levels of around USD 12 billion with the implementation of the CEPA. Bilateral trade and the creation of an institutional structure to facilitate it is undoubtedly the third pillar in Japan-India relations. Has India become larger when viewed from Tokyo? Yes. Since the visit to India by former premier Yoshiro Mori in 2000, bilateral relations between the two nations have successfully managed to remove the mothballs that had accumulated during the cold war period. Since Mori, every Japanese premier and his Indian counterpart have maintained a high-level political relationship that has translated itself at various levels including an annual defense dialog. The last decade has witnessed the emergence of India as the largest recipient of ODA and targeted investments made by Japan especially in Indiaâ€™s infrastructure. In strategic terms, India to Japanese policy making elites is not only an economic market of opportunities but also a systemic alter ego with shared values and concerns. An â€œassertiveâ€ rise of China is an option not countenanced by both and hence the simulated moves in creating mechanisms for closer relations. For both the countries adopting a strategy benefiting each other is in their interests. India needs technology and investment from Japan while Japan needs a competitive growing market like India. As the Joint Statement Vision of 2010 reveals, there are several areas where the mutual interests of both countries complement each other. First is defense and security cooperation, where both the countries need to face challenges such as maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Maritime security to ensure the safety of SLOCS and to deter piracy is an important issue for both the countries. The launch of the Japan-India Shipping Policy Forum and the exchanging of escort operations schedules conducted by the Japanese SDF and the Indian Navy in the Gulf of Aden is a significant starter. Second, the issue of terrorism has led both the countries to cooperate by sharing information, undertake counter-terrorism training and establish a Japan-India Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. Third, the two countries have agreed upon a medium of energy cooperation through the setting up of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Significantly, bilateral cooperation in the â€œdevelopment, re-cycling and re-use of rare earths and rare metalsâ€ has been agreed upon by both the sides. Chinaâ€™s domination of the global market for the supply of rare earths and metals has led Japan to diversify its supply chain and India with its not insignificant deposits might emerge as the alternative. Fourth, for India, closer relations with Japan have led to the emergence of a more nuanced position by Tokyo as regards Indiaâ€™s nuclear program. It is expected that the two countries will soon arrive at an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation that will introduce yet another facet to their expanding relations â€“ nuclear commerce. Fifth, as vocal advocates for a multilateral order, both the countries emphasize the salience of the G20 in international economic cooperation. Should India interpret the J-NDPG -2011 as an opportunity? No. Japan-India relations have reached a stage where they are generating their own dynamics with bilateral cooperation touching upon several layers. The J-NDPG -2011 is a policy document of Japan that responds to the existential threats it is surrounded with. As stated by several Indian leaders repeatedly, India should not be part of any axes or grouping that polarizes the Asia-Pacific region. Indiaâ€™s interests are to maintain its domestic economic growth and commensurately expand its relations with countries of the Asia-Pacific region without any exception and in logical continuation of its â€˜Look Eastâ€™ policy. The â€˜Look Eastâ€™ policy has served India well for the past two decades and there is no proximate cause for it to be jettisoned now.