The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Game of Thrones: Japan and India Bond over China

One of the best ways to understand what’s going on in Asia these days is to watch the relationship between Japan and India. The world’s largest democracy and the world’s third-largest economy are both growing wary of their Chinese neighbor. As a result, ties between Japan and India, always strong, have been getting stronger.

India never experienced Japanese wartime occupation, as did Korea and China. More prosaically, Japanese Suzukis were the first modern cars available in India in the early 1980s, and Japanese car makers continue dominate the large and fast-growing market. The efficient metro system in New Delhi, a symbol of progress for the country, was built with help from the Japanese government. Japan remains the biggest foreign investor in India, and India is the top recipient of Japanese development funds. Most recently, The two countries signed a free trade agreement in 2011, and trade between the two countries continues to grow rapidly.

Now, the leaders of both countries, Manmohan Singh and Yoshihiko Noda, have decided to meet in person this month. The WSJ reports:

The two leaders will discuss strengthening security cooperation after a flurry of meetings this year between the countries’ top defense and foreign affairs officials and the first India-Japan joint naval operations in June, according to a Japanese foreign ministry official.

Both countries have committed to start regular meetings on maritime security in the region’s waters and hope to begin such discussions as soon as possible, the official said.

This may seem like a minor development, but the India-Japan relationship is an important one for Asian geopolitics. The growing defense and economic ties between these two at this point indicate a determined effort to counter what both countries view as China’s dangerous trend toward a more assertive foreign policy and nationalistic outlook. This is a big move in the Game of Thrones.

Published on November 6, 2012 7:00 pm