January 24, 2014

Japan, India, and Democratic Cooperation in Asia

The following article appeared as a GMF Transatlantic Take on January 24, 2014. An excerpt is included below. The full text can be accessed here. 

There was a time, not that long ago, when the question of whether “Asian values” — whatever they meant — were compatible with democracy was being hotly debated. But times have changed. Today, over 2 billion Asians (roughly half the continent), live in free, democratic polities, more than in the United States and Europe combined. But as the balance of democracy moves from West to East, what does the future hold for global democratic cooperation?

 A useful indicator of things to come may be the growing alignment between India and Japan — Asia’s largest and wealthiest democracies. This weekend, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be welcomed in New Delhi as chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, marking the next step in an increasingly close strategic partnership. Despite poor relations in the late 1990s, when India conducted several nuclear tests, Tokyo and New Delhi have developed a partnership encompassing more robust economic ties, defense exercises, high-level security and foreign policy dialogues, and regular apex-level meetings. The primary motivator of this fast-developing relationship may be balance of power considerations; both countries have growing concerns about China, a country with which they have active territorial disputes. But just as importantly, both Tokyo and New Delhi have become much less reserved in recent years about adopting the rhetoric of values-based cooperation.