Cablegate: Pm Singh Visit to Japan: Time for the U.S. To Seize the Day On Closer Trilateral Cooperation
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 09 NEW DELHI 008137
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2021
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR KDEM JA IN
SUBJECT: PM SINGH VISIT TO JAPAN: TIME FOR THE U.S. TO SEIZE THE DAY ON CLOSER TRILATERAL COOPERATION
REF: NEW DELHI 6770
Classified By: DCM Geoffrey Pyatt for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)
1. (C) Summary. Prime Minister Singh will visit Tokyo December 13-16 as a follow-on to the ASEAN summit. He and PM Abe are expected to have a feel-good series of meetings, including talks on deepening the bilateral relationship, economic and cultural "deliverables," recognition of the expansion of Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces engagement, and the possibility of moving toward a Free Trade Agreement or similar economic partnership. As the Indo-Japan relationship blossoms parallel to burgeoning Indo-U.S. ties, the time has come for closer trilateral cooperation. The U.S. should seize the opportunity this moment is providing, and proactively push those U.S. interests that a three-way relationship offers. End Summary.
Singh In Tokyo: The Feel Good Event of the Season
2. (C) The Japanese Embassy in New Delhi has confirmed to Poloffs the notional schedule for the December 13-16 visit of PM Singh to Tokyo. PM Singh will travel directly to Tokyo from the East Asian summit in the Philippines. According to Japanese diplomats, the focus of the visit will be on deepening bilateral relations, building on PM Mori's "global partnership" announcement during his 2000 visit and PM Koizumi's "strategic orientation" announced in 2005. Other emphases will be economic and cultural rather than political, contacts said, as these areas offer "more feasible deliverables," and one announcement will be about significant new investments by Suzuki and Mitsui. Japan expects to recognize the outcomes of and further expand the goodwill exercises between the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces and the Indian Navy, fulfilling part of the joint declaration agreed upon during then-Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Tokyo last May. This visit will also address the outcomes of a Joint Study Group which had submitted a report to the two heads of government on an economic partnership agreement or FTA, and announce the formation of a high-tech working group to eliminate export controls prohibiting civilian trade. PM Singh will meet with PM Abe both one-on-one and in a larger group format, and will likely meet with FM Aso, other ministers, and possibly the Emperor. The Indian government has strongly requested a meeting with the Emperor, according to the Japanese Embassy. PM Singh will
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also have lunch with the business community, stressing economic opportunities in India, and the Japanese DCM in New Delhi made a point of stressing to DCM the significant size
-- roughly 130 companies -- of the Indian business delegation that will accompany Singh. The Parliament Friendship League is also expected to host an event for him. The two leaders will announce that PM Abe will have accepted an invitation to visit India, and contacts say the trip will likely be in the summer, adding that would be the occasion to discuss in more detail political and security issues.
U.S.-Japan-India: The Stars Have Aligned
3. (C) While Indo-Japan ties will surely benefit from the Singh visit, the opportunity for the U.S. to secure closer trilateral relations with the world's largest democracy and one of our greatest allies is dazzling. The stars have aligned in innumerable and historic ways. To begin with, our bilateral ties with both countries are arguably the best they have ever been, and the triangle closes with Indo-Japan ties reaching new heights. PM Abe is an admitted Indophile, whose grandfather, Prime Minister Kishi, worked on establishing closer relations in his 1957 visit to India, and who devoted three pages in his latest book to the "crucial importance" of Japan-India relations. In his inaugural address on September 29, PM Abe said he intended to engage in strategic dialogues with Australia and India, "countries that share fundamental values...with a view to widening the circle of free societies in Asia as well as in the world." Prime Minister Singh, who came to appreciate the importance of India's relationship with Japan as Finance Minister during the 1991 financial crisis, when Japan announced 150 million yen in emergency assistance, is passionate about deepening the relationship. In the same year that PM Singh signed the "Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership" with President Bush, he was the co-signatory of the "Eight-Fold Initiative" agreed to with PM Koizumi, bringing a strategic orientation to those two countries' global partnership. Beyond the top leaders, India's National Security Advisor and Japan's Vice Foreign Minister included, numerous other exchanges took place in 2006, and 2007 promises more as it has been declared the "Year of Japan" in India, and vice-versa. The two countries have signed the "Global Partnership for the 21st Century," were co-members of the tsunami core group, were cohorts on the "G4" seeking together permanent seats on the UN Security Council, and have two-way trade of around USD 6.5 billion
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annually, which, while modest still, they hope to grow to USD 10 billion by 2009. Symbolic of the new ties, Japan pushed ASEAN to include India as an original member of the East Asia Summit. Also, India is now the largest recipient of Japanese official development assistance, having just surpassed aid to China.
4. (C) While the civil-nuclear cooperation initiative is poised to turbo charge U.S.-India relations, it will also provide Japan an opportunity to remove sanctions and psychological obstacles which have lingered in Japan-India relations since India's 1998 nuclear test, making it OK for Japanese industry to again invest in India, according to Japanese diplomats in New Delhi. They claim that Japanese firms plan over USD 3 billion in FDI over the next five years. Furthermore, as the U.S. and India move toward a new era in military-military cooperation, efforts to push the Japan-India relationship are equally fervent, with an unprecedented number of exchanges in the last year, including the Chief of Joint Staff and all three Chiefs of the Japanese Self-Defense Force branches, Defense Minister Mukherjee and the Chiefs of the Indian Navy and Air Force. Other mil-mil exchanges are taking place at a rate that would have been inconceivable in the past, and the two coast guards have established close relations through joint exercises and other interactions. PM Singh's visit is expected to shift all of this momentum into a new gear.
Seize the Day
5. (C) With better relations in all three directions clearly in our collective interests, it is time to take advantage of the opportunity at hand and take steps to build closer trilateral cooperation. Ideas for notional trilateral initiatives abound in the media and in Track II dialogues taking place in Washington, Tokyo and New Delhi, while other ideas - such as a quadrilateral strategic dialogue (to include Australia) - are being put forward by no less than PM Abe (and supported by India - see reftel). Other groundbreaking ideas, such as the U.S.-India agreement at the Defense Policy Group meeting in November to invite Japan to the Malabar '07 naval exercise off Guam, have already taken root. The possibilities are literally numerous, but in the hope of stirring up ideas, Post offers the following concrete initiatives for trilateral discussion;
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-- propose trilateral peacekeeping training under the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI) banner to be conducted at India's United Service Institute-Centre for UN Peacekeeping (USI-CUNPK); possible programs include seminars headed by our three countries training others in civil-military relations, bridging gaps between peacekeeping and peace building, or working in a multinational environment; another possibility would be for us to jointly fund police and medical unit training for peacekeepers/trainers from other countries, focusing on Africa; future training could be adapted as needed;
-- energize the U.S.-Japan Strategic Assistance Dialogue to have a particular focus on business infrastructure in India, building on Japan's successful freight corridor project and seeking synergies in the three countries' advanced IT sectors;
-- under the banner of trilateral assistance talks, discuss specific maritime infrastructure project possibilities for India and in the Indian Ocean region. Such talks would be focused on the economic aspects of port building and other maritime infrastructure, but would have strategic security implications as well;
-- conduct multilateral maritime security exercises. Indian contacts tell us the Indian Navy is eager to be involved in a broad range of maritime security issues, including disaster relief, interoperability, counterterrorism, and piracy. Both Australia and Singapore would be seen as natural partners for inclusion in such exercises;
-- use Japan's leadership role to encourage Indian participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI);
-- based on Japan's bilateral exercises with other countries, other possible mil-mil activities could include search and rescue exercises, minesweeping, tactical maneuvers, and passage exercises;
-- seek synergies in trilateral missile defense research;
-- establish an informal yet committed disaster relief response capability, to include Australia, focused on proactively preparing to deliver coordinated military and NGO assets quickly to disaster areas in the South and Southeast Asian regions;
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-- begin a quadrilateral dialogue, to include Australia, focusing on common strategic issues. However, unlike PM Abe's proposal to begin a quad strategic dialogue at the ministerial level and include security and intelligence issues, start at the political director's level and focus on global issues where we four can make a difference, such as the global war on terror, global warming/clean energy, maritime security, anti-piracy and intellectual property rights, trade liberalization, health and science. Build on the dialogue as trust in it grows, with the ultimate goal being a meaningful ministerial Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue;
-- along the lines of the ITER fusion project, establish in India a large-scale living laboratory for clean energy, particularly solar energy. Invite Germany and other global solar energy leaders to participate, providing seed money to private companies who would assume the long-term financial risk in return for favorable market conditions within India;
-- use science and technology to promote global issues, clean energy or other mutually beneficial projects. For example, propose trilateral DNA technology to support post-conviction work in India;
-- energize commitment to fight global diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, polio or Pandemic Influenza, perhaps taking advantage of India's hosting of the 2007 International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza conference.;
-- develop more international support for UN reform, particularly a strong and effective UN Human Rights Council. Take a proactive approach to working with Japan and India on UN Security Council reform;
-- propose new cultural exchanges, such as a Fulbright or other program, which split a participants program into time in all three countries, or explores commonalities; build on the First Pitch baseball program which recently had a successful tour around India by incorporating Japanese coaches in a similar program; encourage three-way exchanges in the popular fields of cinema or anime; create a jointly funded African Information Technology Center, providing the venue and means for tapping Africa's best and brightest IT professionals;
-- invite Indian pilots to air bases in Japan. To the extent
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constitutionally possible, include Japanese airmen and naval aviators in joint training, or at least allow Japan and India to observe each other's bilateral training exercises. If done quickly, and if partnered with industry representatives seeking co-production offset arrangements, this could serve as an excellent conduit for demonstrating the superiority of F-16 and F-18 fighters as they compete for the multi-billion dollar Indian contract expected within the next couple years; the larger goal would be to demonstrate to India the benefits for Japan of the complex mil-mil and military industrial relationship with Japan, with an eye toward getting India to "buy American;"
The above list is not meant to be exhaustive, rather merely to illustrate that a full menu could be developed from which to choose engagements to develop our mutual interests.
Obstacles To Overcome: China, History, and "So What?"
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6. (C) Critics of enhanced trilateral relations worry about China's reaction, dismiss the possibilities based on historical patterns, or question the worth of such ties. None of these should stand in the way.
7. (C) In the case of China, some worry about China's fear that will feel threatened or "boxed in" by the U.S., Japan and India growing closer, as though China's feelings should take priority over pursuing U.S. interests. Should China feel threatened, the thinking goes, it may move to counter U.S. interests in other areas, such as on North Korea or as a veto-wielding UNSC member, or build up its military. Such thinking dismisses that -- even before U.S.-Japan-India rapprochement -- China pursues its own interests relentlessly in international fora, and Chinese military spending has increased, by some estimates, by over 1000 per cent in the last 15 years. The U.S. pursues its interests by developing a vibrant missile defense program with Japan over Chinese objections, yet some worry that the mere concept of holding a three-way dialogue or some other diplomatic initiative will cause Beijing to engage in a foreign policy which could not be contained. The fact is while China is actively seeking to spread its influence through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, its "string of pearls" in the Indian Ocean or other diplomatic initiatives (none of which suggest China defers to American anxieties as it proceeds), a more visible U.S.-Japan-India friendship would signal that free and
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democratic nations, too, pursue their interests, along with partners who share our values. We will be offering other hopeful emerging nations on the continent a distinctly alternative model to China's. Ultimately, any threat from China is diminished -- not increased -- with greater U.S.-Japan-India ties. And, most importantly, we will be pursuing a policy based on U.S. strengths, not Chinese fears.
8. (C) Others claim that a meaningful trilateral relationship could never be achieved, particularly given India's traditional anti-U.S./non-aligned foreign policy and common border with China, as well as close ties to another anti-U.S. hegemon, Russia. These observers have failed to appreciate the fundamental change which has taken place in India, evidenced by all of the recent advances described above and punctuated by developments in the private sector. While in previous decades the world could afford to look away from India and vice-versa, today India does matter, and through its world-is-flat business, culture or politics has become a global player, more than ever interdependent, particularly with partners who can help India fulfill its view of its destiny, such as the U.S. and Japan. To be sure, India will concurrently seek friendly relations with China, Russia and even less savory countries, such as Burma, and the U.S. will need to remain cogniant of India's independent streak when it inevitably clashes from time-to-time with the bilateral relationship. But we must recognize that times have changed, and the time is right for the world's oldest democracy, the world's largest democracy, and Asia's most stable and prosperous democracy to become strategic partners.
9. (C) Another challenge to address is the "so what" question, i.e., what value is there for the United States in having a closer trilateral partnership? The U.S. already has an effective trilateral strategic dialogue in place in the region with Japan and Australia, some argue, and India has not yet earned its place at that table. Why would we want to risk diminishing the value of that if we're not prepared to discuss strategically sensitive issues with India? The answer is that the strategic partnership with India is just beginning to form, and so while we should not immediately move India into the inner circle, it would be foolish to leave it behind. India brings to the table not only the world's largest democracy and a potential market of a billion people, it is also the secular home to the world's second largest muslim population, a regional naval power whose interests in maritime security closely match the United
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States', a growing economic giant, a nuclear power, an educational dynamo, a strategically located land and sea link for all Asia, an oasis of stability in a dysfunctional neighborhood, and a nation that is on its own actively seeking closer ties with Japan and Australia. The key question is: What if we can develop India into a close ally in the coming decades? One telling example which proved the value of a four-sided partnership was the Tsunami Core Group, which demonstrated that we can cooperate militarily in ways that benefit the USG. Erstwhile tsunami victim India was able to mobilize assets which would have taken weeks for the U.S. to bring to the region, share the burden and leverage our capabilities to provide large-scale disaster relief. Moreover, India plans to upgrade every major defense system it has over the next 15 years, and for the first time in nearly half a century is looking at the U.S. as a defense supplier. India may never have the military might of China, however, it will have significant power projection capabilities. What the U.S. stands to gain by adding India to the U.S.-Japan-Australia mix is essentially squaring the circle in the Asia-Pacific region, bringing a geometric and geopolitical connection for democracy that spans nearly half the globe. Whereas the U.S.-Japan-Australia partnership links the U.S. to the western edge of the Pacific Rim, the addition of India penetrates all the way through to South Asia.
10. (C) In the beginning of the 21st century, diplomacy is moving faster than ever, and the countries which will excel are going to be those able to react ahead of the pace of change. Nowhere has this speedy change mattered more than in South and East Asia. Leaders from every country which seeks global influence are beating a path to New Delhi, and if we want the bilateral relationship to have value, it will be in leveraging India's emergence as part of our global strategy. As India and Japan grow closer, the U.S. needs to pounce on this moment of opportunity to shape the direction diplomacy in this region takes in the coming decades. By pushing our sphere of close friends past the Pacific Rim and through East Asia -- through a region where the U.S. has been involved in three wars in our parents' lifetime, not to mention a hotbed in the Global War on Terror -- in terms of U.S. interests in Asia, "so what?" could very well mean a great deal for the next generation.
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