External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi are scheduled to meet virtually on April 24 to discuss issues of mutual interest such as taking forward the Quad initiative, increasing investment co-operation, development in the Covid-19 situation, and setting the stage for talks between the two Prime Ministers in the next two weeks, sources told BusinessLine .
“Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga is supposed to visit India for an in-person meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the end of this month or in early May and there have been no changes in the plans yet. But the Japanese side has said that they are watching the Covid-19 situation and will proceed accordingly. There is also the option of a virtual meeting if the situation so warrants,” a person tracking the development said.
A prominent area of discussion could be the partnership under Quad—which includes Japan, India, the US and Australia—to strengthen co-operation in the Indo-Pacific and minimise the growing influence of China in the area, official sources said.
“Strengthening the Quad to check China’s influence featured prominently in the recent meeting between Suga and US President Joe Biden in Washington earlier this week,” the source said. Motegi is likely to discuss the takeaways from the meeting between Biden and Suga on Quad to prepare grounds for the Japanese PM’s meeting with Modi.
“Together, we will continue to work with allies and partners, including with Australia and India through the Quad, which has never been stronger, to build the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek,” Biden and Suga had noted in a joint statement.
Increasing investment ties is another important topic that the two Foreign Affairs Ministers are likely to take up. Japan has recently doubled the budget for the subsidies to incentivise its manufacturers to shift from China, from the existing ¥23.5 billion. Since India was added to the list of countries that would attract the subsidies, the increase in budget increases the potential of more investments flowing into India.
“The Japanese government and investors have been discussing with India ways to make the investment climate more attractive and this could feature in the talks between the two Foreign Ministers,” the source said.
Japan is the fifth largest investor in the Indian economy with cumulative FDI inflows of $34.5 billion in the April 2000 to December 2020 period accounting for 7 per cent of total FDI inflows. Strengthening of supply chain resilience under the initiative launched by the trade ministers of Japan, India and Australia last year may also feature in the discussions, the source added. India and Japan also had plans of holding a ‘2+2’ format meeting of foreign and defence ministers in Tokyo later this month before the Prime Ministers meeting.