India-Japan Partnership and Northeast India

Rajaram Panda

Currently, Professor Rajaram Panda is Senior Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi. Earlier, he was Senior Fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, ICCR (Ministry of External Affairs) Chair Professor at Reitaku University, Japan, and Lok Sabha Research Fellow, Parliament of India. E-mail:


India-Japan partnership has moved to a new level committing development of the long-neglected region of India’s northeast. After the Narendra Damodardas Modi government launched its Act East Policy, India and Japan have found new added value in collaborating to develop this part of India. Many hurdles exist in achieving their objectives. India looks at the northeast region not just as a window for ASEAN in the context of its Act East Policy but as the epicentre of the three pillars- 3Cs – Communication, Commerce and Culture. Any partnership between India and Japan will find a sound foundation with the Northeast as a springboard. The main thrust in developing the region is cross-border connectivity and market linkages for the northeastern region with the ASEAN. Institutional forums are already worked out through which project management agrees to be executed. Some are already done, others are in the process, and new ones are being planned. India and Japan have identified three key areas – infrastructure development, institutions, and governance to make the partnership effective. Modi’s government focuses on exploring the extraordinary opportunities in the northeastern states and other states to enhace productivity for rapid growth. In this mission, Japan is a willing partner. Because of strategic reasons and the sensitiveness of the region, India has shied away from involving other countries in the development activities in the region. However, Japan’s position is unique because of both bonds and trust. Northeast India also serves as a bridge between India and the ASEAN region. So it is a win-win situation for both. The paper attempts to address some of these issues to understand the India-Japan partnership better to develop India’s northeastern region and see how both countries benefit in the process.

Keywords Act East Policy . Indo-Pacific construct . Connectivity . Infrastructure development . Seven Sisters . Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiatives . Maritime security . Fumio Kishida . Narendra Modi . International politics and diplomacy.