Japan not to join RCEP without India's participation
In a major boost to India's stand on not joining the trade bloc which includes China, Japan has clearly said that it is not considering signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) without Indias participation.
Japan's stand on solidarity with India with respect to RCEP is crucial, coming before Saturday's meeting between Defence and Foreign Ministers of both countries in New Delhi. These meetings are being held in preparation for a visit to India by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
India has withdrawn from the RCEP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the deal was not beneficial for India's interests and for the deal's potential impact on the livelihoods of its most vulnerable citizens.
China then said that the 15 remaining countries have decided to move forward first and India was welcome to join RCEP whenever it's ready.
Japanese policymakers have said in media interviews that the focus is on negotiations which include India.
The Ministry of External Affairs announced on Friday that the inaugural meeting of India-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue (2+2) will be held on Saturday.
This meeting will be held in pursuance with the decision taken by Modi and Abe during the 13th India-Japan Annual Summit held in Japan in October 2018 to institute a Foreign and Defence ministerial dialogue for further deepening bilateral security and defence cooperation.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will head the Indian delegation for 2+2, while the Japanese delegation will be led by Foreign Affairs Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Minister of Defence Taro Kono.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said the 2+2 meeting would provide an opportunity to the two sides to exchange further views on strengthening defence and security cooperation so as to provide greater depth to the 'India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership'.
The two sides will also exchange views on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and their respective efforts under India's 'Act East Policy' and Japan's 'Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision' for achieving their shared objectives of peace, prosperity and progress to realise a better future for the people of the two countries and the region.
The deepening relationship between India and Japan is being seen as a counterfoil to the economic and military might of China in the Indo-Pacific region with both countries being wary of China's growing footprint.
Policymakers in Tokyo have indicated that Japan will continue to persuade India to join the RCEP, pointing to the political, economic and national security benefits if India joins the bloc.-IANS