Modi, Japan PM Fumio Kishida oppose 'unilateral coercion' in Indo-Pacific
11 October 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke to new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, their first conversation since the latter took charge this week, committing to strengthen bilateral relations and opposing the use of military and economic force in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The leaders discussed the increasing alignment of perspectives, and robust cooperation, between India and Japan in the Indo-Pacific region. They reviewed the progress of cooperation under the Quad framework in this regard,” said a ministry of external affairs (MEA) statement, which gave details of the talks that lasted about 25 minutes.
It stated that Modi invited Kishida, who has met him earlier in his role as foreign minister, to visit India for a summit.
"Spoke with HE Fumio Kishida to congratulate him for assuming charge as the Prime Minister of Japan. I look forward to working with him to further strengthen India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership and to enhance cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region," Modi tweeted.
“Both leaders shared their strong opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force and to economic coercion, while confirming that the two countries would deepen cooperation on economic security such as through resilience of supply chains,” according to a statement issued by the Japanese ministry of foreign affairs.
The statements are significant as tensions have been rising in the South China Sea over a record number of Chinese jets being flown into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the past week, after recent military exercises involving the US, Japan, the UK and other allies in the region. On Tuesday, Kishida, who was earlier known for a moderate foreign policy line and now taken a tough posture on countering China, spoke to US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. His call to Modi also follows a day after his conversation with Russian President Putin.
Modi and Kishida discussed plans for celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations next year, and promote cooperation on “green technology, digital, healthcare, enhancing connectivity”. They discussed the construction of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project. A Japan-India flagship project, the Bullet Train project, however, is marked by delays over land acquisition and pricing issues.
Kishida, who won the leadership election for his party, the LDP, last week after interim prime minister Suga stepped down from the post, is expected to call for general elections to be held by the end of this year.
Kishida won the governing party leadership election on Wednesday last, beating popular vaccinations minister Taro Kono by just one vote in the first round where none of the four candidates, including two women, was able to win a majority.
Kishida also has more support from party heavyweights who apparently prefers stability over change advocated by Kono.
The new leader also has to address popular concerns over the way the Suga government handled the coronavirus pandemic as also its insistence on holding the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The long-ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party desperately needs to quickly turn around plunging public support ahead of lower house elections coming within two months.
Kishida called for growth and distribution under his “new capitalism,” saying that the economy under Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had only benefited big companies.
However, all of the candidates support close Japan-US security ties and partnerships with other like-minded democracies in Asia and Europe, in part to counter China’s growing influence and a threat from nuclear-armed North Korea.