But his personal chemistry with Manmohan is another important factor. I think Abe genuinely believes in what he told a Sapru House gathering in 2007: “A strong India is in the best interest of Japan and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India”. This belief has been gaining wider acceptance in Japan. Abe’s India visit comes shortly after that of the Japanese emperor and empress—two back-to-back high-level visits to a country is a rarity in Japanese planning—and shows the growing significance of India in the Japanese calculus. It has to be said at this juncture that India needs to convey to the Japanese people the significance and prestige attached to the chief guest at its R-Day ceremony. But the question remains—why does Japan place so much significance on India?
One definite reason is China. Had it not been for its aggressive posture, the pace of Japan-India relations would be much slower. Abe’s visit comes at a critical time. China has been making dangerous, provocative gestures against Japan over the Senkaku islands in East China Sea. China’s decision to set up the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea last November and the regular intrusion into Japanese territorial waters by Chinese ships have raised tensions. They also spurred Shinzo Abe’s decision to visit the Yasukuni shrine in December. His visit led to condemnation from various quarters, including the United States.
Although such criticism did not manage to marginalise Japan in any way, reaffirming and strengthening bilateral ties with India under such circumstances means so much for Japan.
Just like Japan’s maritime dispute with China, India shares similar concerns over border disputes with China. Securing freedom of navigation from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean is crucial for both countries. Some say the purpose of Abe’s visit is to ‘encircle’ a muscle-flexing China. Neither Japan nor India would acknowledge this. But let’s face it, China is a threat and we share the same concern. It is surprising that India, normally nervous in handling anything concerning China, has decided to host Abe at this time. Its political significance will not be lost on China. I think India too has decided to send a message that Japan and India are on the same page when it comes to assessing China.
Makiko Takita is a Tokyo-based writer for the Japanese daily, Sankei Shimbum; E-mail your columnist: makikotakita AT gmail.com
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The conventional wisdom - often applied to Indo - Pak relations - is that deeper economic engagement will help dissolve old enmities. That is being proved wrong by China in recent years. The largest trading nation, the second largest economy, deeply invested in the rest of the world, but at odds with almost everyone in its extended neighbourhood, except North Korea and Pakistan. Even without the enormous economic synergies that are possible between India and Japan, there are powerful reasons for them to forge a strategic relationship. Had 1991 happened about a decade earlier and been pursued more forcefully, the economic landscape of Asia would have looked different.
Fact is - Indo Japanese relationship is only relationship where both nations need each other in equal measure.
Throw in South Korea and we are in for a durable, long term partnership that is win win for all and can be a potent challenge to unquestioned Chinese domination in Asia. And I am sure the CPM types will soon need to add Japan and South Korea to their definition of enemies.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT