Despite the relationship between India and Japan going back to ancient civilization times, the visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko from November 30-December 6 is the first ever official visit of a royal monarch to India. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement saying, “The visit will immeasurably expand and strengthen the India-Japan Strategic & Global Partnership.”
The Imperial couple have been to India before in 1960 during their honeymoon when they were just the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan. Their upcoming official visit, which has created wide media coverage in India, is because of an invitation from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. Even though the Emperor is considered a ceremonial and symbolic position, it is still going to add to the already strong bilateral ties between the two countries. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also planning a state visit in January 2014, and will probably be the chief guest of honor during the country’s Republic Day celebrations. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also visited Tokyo earlier this year in order to discuss several bilateral concerns.
India normally does not have alliances with other countries but has called Japan a major strategic partner in Asia. While Japan has some reservations about the South Asian country’s continuing possession of nuclear weapons, it has good economic and security ties with them, and has even “symbolically ended” its ban on exporting defense equipment by supplying India with amphibious planes. The two are also embroiled in their own respective territorial disputes with China, but both have not made a comment if this has been one of the driving forces in the strengthening of their bilateral relationship.
[ via The Diplomat ]