India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United States, where he met with President Obama and agreed on a plan to hold a trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting that would include Japan. Ever since the United States, Japan and India agreed at the Japan-India summit held in September in Tokyo that a meeting should be held, the three countries appear to be in step with each other and will discuss a strategy to develop a framework for regional stability.
According to a joint statement, American and Indian leaders discussed strengthening U.S. technology cooperation with the Indian navy. The details are unclear, but the focus of the discussion is believed to have been technical support geared at the construction of domestic aircraft carriers sought by India.
In particular, Prime Minister Modi and President Obama confirmed the importance of freedom of flight and navigation with regard to the dispute among China, Vietnam and the Philippines over sovereignty in the South China Sea. At the same time, the two leaders pressed for problem resolution through peaceful measures.
In the South China Sea, China is claiming sovereignty according to its own logic over almost the entire region, ignoring opposition from related countries, and strengthening its effective control. China is once again heightening its presence in the Indian Ocean, prompting India to be on its guard.
The posture of U.S. and India leaders could be described as one of restraint regarding China’s accelerated ocean expansion. The United States, Japan and India are creating a framework for regional stability in an effort to keep an eye on China.
While China builds its national power, it is natural that Japan, the U.S. and India — which have freedom and democracy in common — increase their cooperation. Nonetheless, each country has a deep, interdependent economic relationship with China, so they must avoid crossing the line and causing antagonism.
In particular, India has pinned its hopes on China regarding the cultivation of the manufacturing industry and control of inflation, which holds the key to future economic growth. China’s President Xi Jinping has already visited India, and he lost no time in meeting with Prime Minister Modi within six months of Modi’s inauguration.
As for Modi, it is likely he wishes to attract the technology and capital India needs for economic development from Japan, the United States and China under the most advantageous conditions. Based on such ulterior motives, Japan must strategically deepen its relationship with India.