Indo-japan ties: Countries join hands to develop infrastructure in Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Singapore: India and Japan have joined hands in a big way to develop civilian and strategic infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and overseas which can uniquely benefit Singapore, according to a leading Indian researcher.

Rupakjyoti Borah, a visiting research fellow at the National University of Singapore (NUS) , said that the Indo-Japan collaboration provides Singaporean infrastructure firms with business opportunities in India that are "too good to miss".

File image of Andaman Islands. Reuters

File image of Andaman Islands. Reuters

Speaking at the Institute of South Asian Studies here, he said Singaporean firms could team up with Indian and Japanese companies not only to build, but also maintain infrastructure projects.

"A notable area could be the port (sector) as Singapore has rich expertise in this area," Borah said.

India is developing the Chabahar Port in Iran, which some experts believe could be a potential counterweight to the deep-water Gwadar Port China is developing in south Pakistan.

Both the Chabahar and Gwadar ports lie directly opposite the Gulf of Oman and adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz - an important sea lane to carry oil from the Persian Gulf.

Japan has previously expressed willingness to be a part of the Chabahar Port initiative.

Borah said Japan is also looking at improving ties with Iran as Tokyo is a net-energy importer and, in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, it has had to cut down on the production of its nuclear energy.

The two countries have also agreed to cooperate to develop civilian infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which lie very close to the Straits of Malacca – a choke point, according to Borah.

Similarly, there are also prospects for collaboration between these countries in other countries, like Myanmar, he said.

Japan has also been helping India proactively in infrastructure development within the country. "New Delhi has been the biggest recipient of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) since 2003-2004," he said.

Elaborating the long history of close bilateral ties, the leading researcher said India was the first recipient of yen loans from Japan in 1958, during the time of Nobusuke Kishi, who was the grandfather of current prime minister Shinzo Abe.

The Delhi Metro is an example of Japanese ODA to India. There's also the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the western dedicated freight corridor, to which Japan has contributed financially.

The DMIC is one of the world's largest infrastructure projects, which passes through seven Indian states.

"This was one of the ways in which Japan thanked India for contributing to its economic recovery after the devastation caused by the World War II, by supplying much-needed iron ore," Borah said in the report 'Japan-India Cooperation in the Infrastructure Sector and Opportunities for Singapore' released today.

Borah also cited the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor (CBIC) - meant to increase trading volumes between South India and Southeast Asia.

Japan is financially helping India with the CBIC.

India and Japan have also signed a deal to introduce bullet trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Borah said, pointing out that Tokyo has given a loan of around $ 12 billion for the project at a very negligible interest rate.

The construction of the bullet train project will start by 2018 and it is expected to commence operations by 2023.

Tokyo has earmarked a loan of about 96 billion yen ($ 845 million) for developing roadways in India's northeast, which shares the border with China.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Tokyo in 2014, Japan agreed to provide to provide 3.5 trillion yen in assistance to India over the next five years.

India has set up a "Japan Plus" office at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for early redressal of problems faced by Japanese companies in India.


Published Date: May 29, 2017 06:40 pm | Updated Date: Jun 29, 2017 02:47 pm