The future of Indo-Japan relations look bright and the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the countries will further deepen bilateral ties, Toshihiko Kinoshita, Special Researcher, Industrial Management Institute, Waseda University, Japan, said here on Thursday.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Lessons and outlook learned from economic development of Japan and Asia,' under the auspices of the Consulate-General of Japan and the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IJCCI), Prof. Kinoshita said the Indo-Japanese relationship has been optimistic over the long-term; it was just that the countries have been “mentally afar.”

The EPA between the countries, which is expected to be signed soon, will widen opportunities for closer cooperation, Prof. Kinoshita said. India, on its part, needed to develop closer relations with East Asia, improve its business climate and raise its productivity levels.

According to Prof. Kinoshita, one of the major concerns in recent times has been Japan's failure to establish its own concrete vision for the future, especially in relation to co-prospering with Asia. “Japan has to develop a vision in this regard using its superior technology and soft power and reforming its domestic system to meet the demands of a new world order.”

Pressing worries

A rapidly ageing society, abnormally high yen rate, or the “yen-daka,” and lowering of Total Factor Productivity were among the other pressing worries of the sea-grit nation, Prof. Kinoshita said.

It was also important for the young population in Japan, who had increasingly turned “inward-looking,” to step outside and learn to collaborate with counterparts in other Asian countries. The ideal way forward would be to expand foreign investments while sustaining domestic growth.

According to Prof. Kinoshita, some of the unique aspects of the Japanese business ethics are the importance attached to “middle-up” decision-making (where middle level managers guide the growth of a company), the principle of total quality control and on-the-job training, the ability to add homespun values to ideas absorbed from the outside world and value attached to customer satisfaction.

Kazuo Minagawa, Consul General of Japan in Chennai, said India and Japan shared a lot of ground for collaboration in terms of funding, capital, technology and transfer of knowhow.

N. Krishnaswami, IJCCI president, said closer collaboration between India and Japan for the next 25 years could work wonders for both countries and the Asian economy as a whole. He called for removing the mental blocks that stood in the way of realising bilateral potential.

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