Event ReportsPublished on Nov 23, 2007
A delegation of Japanese intellectuals under the leadership of Mr. Yamamoto Tadashi, President, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), a leading independent and non-profit Think Tank in Japan, visited ORF on 23 November, 2007
Japanese delegation visits ORF

A delegation of Japanese intellectuals under the leadership of Mr. Yamamoto Tadashi, President, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), a leading independent and non-profit Think Tank in Japan, visited ORF on 23 November, 2007 with a view to exploring the prospects of   developing institutional linkages. Besides Mr. Yamamoto, the Japanese delegation included Ambassador Koji Watanabe, Mr. Ryo Sahashi, Program Officer, JCIE, and Mr. Takio Yamada, Minister, Japanese Embassy, New Delhi. The ORF side comprised of Ambassador M.K. Rasgotra, Mr. Vikram Sood, Mr. Baljit Kapoor, Ambassador Dilip Lahiri, Prof. K.V. Kesavan, Dr Veena Sharma, and Mrs. Jayashree Sengupta. Besides, it also included some special invitees like Ambassador Arjun Asrani, Ambassador Kuldip Sahdev, Mr. Anjan Roy (FICCI), Dr G Balachandirane (Delhi University) and DR M.M. Kunju, (JNU). At the outset Ambassador Rasgotra set the ball rolling by extending a warm welcome to the Japanese guests and recalled his long association with Japan. He explained  how in the last seventeen years of its existence, ORF has endeavored to provide valuable inputs  for  policy makers in the government and civil society by promoting in-depth research and discussions. In view of the steady growth of Indo-Japanese partnership especially in the last decade, he expressed ORF’s keenness to develop stronger institutional linkages with Japan. He believed that promotion of academic and societal links would go a long way in strengthening our partnership. Mr. Yamamoto traced the history of JCIE from the time of its inception in 1970 and observed how its thrust areas have expanded over decades from merely addressing diplomatic and security issues to in-depth investigations of societal problems. It has promoted policy oriented research through Think-Net programmes including policy dialogues, etc. In recent years, it has laid emphasis on issues relating to civil society through its Civil-Net programmes. He suggested that since the role of civil society in both India and Japan is very crucial, there is enormous scope for undertaking projects in a comparative perspective.

Ambassador Rasgotra then turned to the distinguished participants to offer their views which covered a wide range of subjects. Following is a brief gist of the discussion.

Indo-Japanese partnership which remained predominantly economic in nature for decades, has now become more diversified and includes  a wide spectrum of interests like Maritime Security, energy cooperation, global environment, nuclear disarmament,  and so on.  Both governments have created an impressive array of dialogue mechanisms at official levels. But forums for promoting societal links are almost non-existent. It is therefore essential to broaden and intensify the partnership by emphasizing the role of ‘soft power’ such as academic exchanges, cultural cooperation, training of language experts, etc.

In response to a query by a Japanese delegate on India’s ‘Look East’ policy, many Indian participants pointed out how India’s relations with East Asian countries have witnessed a sea-change both in bilateral and multilateral context. India’s engagement with ASEAN countries has become very strong because of its participation as a dialogue partner and also as member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). India also participates in the annual ASEAN +l meetings. Its participation in the three East Asian Summit conferences has been highly evaluated by the regional countries. India is also keen to enter into free trade/ comprehensive economic partnership agreements with East Asian countries.  All these developments only underline that the ‘Look East’ policy is not a mere slogan, but a major component of India’s diplomacy to deepen its integration with Asia. In this context, it is important to consider a suggestion that India should make serious efforts to encourage trade oriented foreign direct investment. This route will help India become a major production hub for Asia. It is also equally important for India to expand its IT related trade with Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, China, and so on.

Finally, at the time of winding up the discussion, Mr. Yamamoto indicated JCIE’s interest in   projects on subjects like (a) Triangular relations between Japan, China and India; and (b) Aspects of civil societies in Japan and India.

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