Need to take a common stand on maintaining international order, says Japanese PM

Prime Minister Modi and Kishida discuss coordinating G-7 and G-20 agendas, Ukraine issue

Updated - March 20, 2023 10:29 pm IST

Published - March 20, 2023 09:27 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida at Buddha Jayanti Park, in New Delhi, on March 20, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida at Buddha Jayanti Park, in New Delhi, on March 20, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Russia’s war in Ukraine “obliges” Japan and India to take a common stand on the importance of maintaining the international order, said visiting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who discussed coordinating the agendas of the G-7, to be held in Hiroshima in May and the G-20 to be held in Delhi in September on a number of issues including debt financing, food and energy security.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted Mr. Kishida’s request to be one of the special invitees to the G-7 summit of the world’s seven most developed countries on May 19-21. Among other special invitees announced on Monday are the leaders of Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, South Korea, Vietnam, the Cook Islands and Comoros. Mr. Kishida’s remarks were significant as they came the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Moscow to discuss the Ukraine conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I explained in detail to Prime Minister Kishida about the priorities of India’s G-20 Presidency. Giving voice to the priorities of Global South is an important pillar of our G-20 Presidency,” said Mr. Modi, in a statement at Delhi’s Hyderabad House after their meeting, where he thanked Mr. Kishida for the invitation. “The India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership is based on our shared democratic values, and respect for the rule of law in the international arena,” he added.

“I reaffirmed with Prime Minister Modi our commitment to strongly upholding international order based on the rule of law,” said Mr. Kishida, adding that views of the G-7 and G-20 groupings concur on issues like “development finance, food security, climate change and energy”.

Speaking to journalists, Japanese Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs Noriyuki Shikata said Mr. Kishida had been “straightforward” about the fact that no country should “condone” a unilateral change in status quo anywhere in the world. “PM Kishida is clear that today’s Ukraine could be tomorrow’s Asia,” indicating Japan’s concerns over China’s actions in the Senkaku Islands, South China Sea and Taiwan Straits.” Mr. Shikata said the issue of “shared responsibilities” on the rule of law between India and Japan was discussed by the two leaders during bilateral talks as well as a working lunch that followed.

The Japanese Prime Minister went on to expand on the theme during a speech he gave, launching Japan’s “New Plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).

Common perspective

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine obliges us to face the most fundamental challenge; defending peace,” Mr. Kishida said at the Sapru House lecture organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), adding that it was necessary for countries to build a common perspective on what international order should be. “This was clearly demonstrated by the considerable discrepancies in the attitudes across various countries toward Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Mr. Kishida said, indicating countries like India, that have not criticised Russia’s actions openly. Mr. Kishida praised Mr. Modi’s statement from September 2022 that “this era is not of war”, and officials said Japan is hopeful that India would be more “forthcoming” during the upcoming G-7 summit, which would see a number of documents calling for Russia to end the war in Ukraine. While his appearance has not been confirmed, Ukrainian President Zelensky has reportedly been invited to address the summit virtually. 

The two leaders, who met again in the evening to visit the Buddha Jayanti park together, also discussed a number of bilateral issues, as well as plans to cooperate on countries in south Asia. They also exchanged documents on the financing of the next (IVth) tranche of Japanese funding for a loan of 300 billion Yen for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) or “Bullet Train” project, as well as an MoU on Japanese language education for the MEA.

During his ICWA lecture, Mr. Kishida outlined some of his perspectives for Japan’s “New Plan for FOIP” involving four pillars: Principles for Peace and Rules for Prosperity, including the use of the World Trade Organisation, U.S.’s Indo Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF), an economic partnership for infrastructure development with Bangladesh, and debt restructuring for Sri Lanka; Addressing challenges like climate change, health and cyberspace; Connectivity in south-east Asia, south Asia, and the Pacific Islands region; and security in the Indo-Pacific region. Mr. Kishida said Japan plans to mobilise a total of U.S. $75 billion in public and private funds by 2030. In particular, he mentioned coordinating with India for projects as a part of a “Bay of Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain” concept.

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