首相インド訪問 新たな大国との関係強化を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 29, 2009)
Japan should cement ties with new big power India
首相インド訪問 新たな大国との関係強化を(12月29日付・読売社説)

Despite the hectic political calendar at year-end, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama chose to schedule a trip abroad, to South Asian major power India.

India, which has been displaying remarkable economic growth, emulating that of China, is located in an important position connecting the Middle East and East Asia. Japan should promote an economic alliance and security cooperation with India and strengthen the bilateral relationship from a strategic perspective.

India has been maintaining an annualized economic growth rate of 8 percent and has the second-largest population in the world. The country is an attractive economic market for advanced nations. The number of Japanese companies that have advanced into India has tripled in the past three years.

But Japan's total trade volume with India has remained at a low level, and amounts to about one-twentieth of the value of the trade this country does with China.

Signaling his desire to boost the Japan-India bilateral economic relationship, Hatoyama held talks with business leaders in the commercial city of Mumbai before traveling to New Delhi for talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


Intensify EPA talks

Experts point out that India's social infrastructure is still insufficient, hindering the expansion of investment from abroad. It is important for Japan to steadily implement its economic assistance for large-scale projects in India, including the construction of a railway for freight transportation linking New Delhi and Mumbai.

Japan also needs to accelerate its negotiations for an economic partnership agreement with India.

In the negotiations, India has asked Japan to streamline its procedures for approving generic drugs and increase the number of tariff-free items. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry are reluctant to accept such demands, but we hope that concerned ministers will discuss policies for the negotiations, working out which items Japan should compromise on and which ones it should not, without relying too much on bureaucrats.

This summer, South Korea signed an economic partnership agreement with India. Japan should be aware this means South Korean companies will be able to get a head start in India on a more advantageous footing than Japanese firms.


Antipiracy steps needed

In Tuesday's summit meeting, Hatoyama and Singh are expected to establish a regular bilateral security consultation forum involving the foreign and defense vice ministers of the two countries. The countries are considering upgrading the security talks to a ministerial-level meeting in the future.

Ensuring the security of sea-lanes connecting the Middle East and East Asia is desperately important for Japan, which relies heavily on foreign countries for energy resources and food. We hope the Japanese and Indian leaders will discuss concrete steps toward that goal, such as sharing of information on pirates and mounting joint antipiracy patrols.

India is an important partner for Japan in the regional cooperative framework centered around the East Asia Summit.

On the other hand, concerning the new round of multilateral trade talks under the World Trade Organization and the climate change problem, India, along with China, continues to take the side of developing countries, and its words and deeds have caused friction with advanced nations, including Japan.

Japan should patiently call on India to play constructive roles that fit its new status as a major power.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 29, 2009)
(2009年12月29日01時16分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-12-29 07:40 | 英字新聞

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