(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had telephone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida after which he tweeted to say that he hopes to further strengthen India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership. “Spoke with H.E. 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,” PM Modi said on Twitter.
This was the first time Kishida talked to PM Modi since taking over as prime minister, Kyodo News said. Kishida took the top job in the world’s third-largest economy on Monday, replacing Yoshihide Suga, who had seen his support undermined by surging Covid-19 infections. Daily cases have recently fallen and a long state of emergency was lifted this month. India has stepped up its engagements with various initiatives in the Indo-Pacific. It has also been engaging with leaders of Quad countries on the issue.
On September 24, US President Joe Biden hosted the first-ever in-person summit of Quad leaders that vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, anchored by democratic values and unconstrained by coercion, sending an apparent message to China. Japan is one of the four members of the Quad, the other three being India, the United States and Australia
During his recent visit to the United States, PM Modi took part in a Quad summit along with Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Suga during which the leaders announced a slew of new initiatives to take on common challenges, amidst muscle flexing by an assertive China in the strategic region. In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific free of any influence, amidst China’s growing military presence in the strategic region.