Know about India-Japan Relations

By Sajneet|Updated : January 16th, 2021

The multifaceted relationship between India and Japan in political, economic and cultural sectors have grown in recent years. Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan described Japan as ‘a friend of India for life’.  The Modern relations between both countries form an essential pillar for peace, stability and development in Asia.



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Historical ties:

  • The roots of modern India – Japan relationship goes back to the 6th century Ce when Buddhism was introduced in Japan. The Japanese Emperor, Shomu built the Todaji temple in Nara and invited Indian Buddhist Scholar, Bodhisena to preside over the opening ceremony of the temple (752 CE). Several Hindu deities of India continue to be worshipped in Modern Japan.
  • The medieval period saw Japan isolating itself from the outside world and thus the bilateral relations between India and Japan gained momentum only after Meiji restoration (1868) in Japan.
  • Swami Vivekananda visited Japan in 1893, on his way to the Parliament of World Religions at Chicago.
  • The Japan-India Association was established in 1903 by the Japanese government. The association supported the Indian Independence movement.
  • Indian revolutionaries were supported by the Imperial Japanese Army. Rash Bihari Bose escaped to Japan in 1915 and started Indian Independence League. The Japanese also supported the efforts of the Indian National Army (INA) by providing INA with men and material.
  • Indian Justice Radhabinod Pal was the only Judge who argued in favour of Japan during Tokyo Trials (1949) in the aftermath of the Second World War.
  • India was one of the first countries to established diplomatic relations with Japan, soon after Independence of Japan in 1952.
  • Nobusuke Kishi was the first Japanese prime minister to visit India was in 1957 and Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Japan.
  • Japan extended unconditional support during India’s balance of payment crisis in 1991.
  • The beginning of the 21st century saw a rapid growth of Indo-Japan relations. India - Japan signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2011.

Economic Relations:

  • Japanese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for the Fiscal Year 2018-19 was US$ 2.96 billion. The total number of Japanese companies registered in India as of August 2020 is 1,454, with an increase of 13 companies (0.9% growth) as compared to 1,441 in October 2018.



India's export to Japan

India's import from Japan

India-Japan bilateral trade


3.85 billion dollars

9.75 billion dollars

13.60 billion dollars


4.73 billion dollars

10.97 billion dollars

15.71 billion dollars


4.86 billion dollars

12.77 billion dollars

17.63 billion dollars

Items of India’s exports to Japan: petroleum products, non-metallic mineral ware, fish, textiles, iron & steel products, chemicals, textile yarn, metalliferous ores & scrap etc.

  • India’s primary imports from Japan: machinery, electrical machinery, iron and steel products, plastic materials, non-ferrous metals, motor vehicles & accessories etc.
  • Japan, being one of the largest bilateral donors to India, has been extending loan and grant assistance to India since 1958 under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme.
  • Japan committed Japanese Yen 416.458 billion under its Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme in India in the year 2018-19. The funds through ODA supports India’s economic development in important sectors such as power, transportation, environmental projects and projects related to basic human needs.
  • India and Japan have also started the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) for strengthening economic linkages between Asia and Africa.
  • Some Ongoing Indo-Japan economic projects:
    • The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)
    • Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor
    • Development of 12 potential sites as Japan Industrial Townships (JITs) in India in the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
    • Western Dedicated Freight Corridor Project, a corridor of 1504 km from Dadri to JNPT is executed through JICA funding of JPY 550 billion.
    • Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway (MAHSR)
    • India-Japan Digital Partnership (IJDP)


  • The relations between India and Japan have become very significant for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. China’s expansionist policy has caused problems for both India and Japan. The military partnership between the two countries forms an integral part of bilateral relations.
  • India and Japan hold several bilateral military exercises along with taking an active part in multilateral military exercises.
  • The Malabar Exercise is a trilateral naval exercise between India. Japan and the USA.
  • India and Japan also undertook the mine-countermeasures exercise (MINEX) in 2019.
  • India and Japan signed the "Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement" (ACSA) for reciprocal provision of Supplies and Services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Shinyuu Maitri and Dharma Guardian are the other two military exercises between India Japan.
  • The 19th Indian Coast Guard-Japanese Coast Guard Joint-Exercise was organised at Chennai in January.
  • First India- Japan Space Dialogue was organised in New Delhi on 07 March 2019.
  • First Japan-India 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting took place in Delhi on 30 November 2019.
  • India and Japan signed the Memorandum of Cooperation and Exchanges in the Field of Defence for transfer of defence technology in 2014.

The 21st century has been predicted as the century ruled by Asia. India and Japan will play a crucial role in the coming years. In the world threatened by ambitious China, the Indo-Japan relation will hold a key to the stability of the region. India is also forming a quad with USA, Japan and Australia to counter the threat of China. The accelerating economic co-operation between India and Japan will not be mutually beneficial but it will also provide a united front against their common enemies.  

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