DPG-JIIA Institutional Dialogue
The Delhi Policy Group (DPG) and the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) held a virtual dialogue on June 17, 2020 to exchange views on important domestic, regional and global developments, the prevailing strategic environment and emerging challenges to world order. Ambassador H.K. Singh, Director General of DPG, and Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, President of JIIA, led their respective delegations. Discussions covered a panoramic overview of the global situation and included response to the COVID-19 pandemic, stress in the global economy and the challenges faced by democracies across the world.
Bandwagoning impulses in South East Asia amidst China’s growing strategic heft were evaluated, along with the premise of ASEAN centrality, the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept and developments in the South China Sea that can interpose strategic barriers between the maritime democracies of the Quad. In order to promote stability in Asian geopolitics, participants noted that India and Japan could work together with select ASEAN countries in issue-based mini-lateral frameworks.
The current military stand-off along the India-China border in Ladakh was discussed in the context of the regional situation and the larger global power balance. DPG speakers noted the transformation of China from a systemic rival to a geopolitical adversary that seeks India’s strategic containment. They argued that China’s aggression had undermined mutual trust with the manifest intent to dominate rather than accommodate, which carried lessons for the rest of Asia.
In terms of India-Japan bilateral cooperation, speakers underlined the need for Delhi and Tokyo to conclude a military logistics exchange agreement. They agreed on the need to scale up cooperation in the sectors of economy, energy and connectivity. The growing salience of the Indo-Pacific also called for a greater role of the leading democracies of the region in international frameworks, including an expanded UNSC and G-7.
DPG and the JIIA agreed to consider joint collaborative projects on the Indo-Pacific involving Southeast Asian countries and Quad-based webinars/group discussions hosted by the two institutions, on which further consultations are planned. They reaffirmed their commitment to jointly organise the 3rd India-Japan Indo-Pacific Forum (6th India-Japan Track 1.5 Dialogue) on a mutually convenient date later this year, depending on the lifting of Covid-19 travel restrictions. Convening the Forum on a virtual platform could also be considered as a fallback option.