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India-Japan Synergy: From Sustainability to Regeneration

India-Japan Synergy: From Sustainability to Regeneration

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.

Before we dive deep into the article, let’s look back at the past. India and Japan signed a peace treaty establishing official diplomatic relations on April 28th, 1952. This treaty was one of the first treaties Japan signed after World War II. Since then, India-Japan relations have remained good without any hostility. As you all know, during the era of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, relations between the two countries have developed dramatically, bringing us to the present.

Knowing and learning about the past is important. However, it is meaningless to just learn history as history. What we really have to think about is the future. Looking ahead to the world years from now, we must think about what kind of relations India and Japan should have.

We are now in the VUCA era. In other words, it is said that we live in an age of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Volatility refers to the speed of change in an industry, market or the world in general. It is associated with fluctuations in demand, turbulence and short time to markets and it is well-documented in the literature on industry dynamism. The more volatile the world is, the more and faster things change. Uncertainty refers to the extent to which we can confidently predict the future. Part of uncertainty is perceived and associated with people’s inability to understand what is going on. Complexity refers to the number of factors that we need to take into account, their variety and the relationships between them. The more factors, the greater their variety and the more they are interconnected, the more complex an environment is. Under high complexity, it is impossible to fully analyze the environment and come to rational conclusions. Ambiguity refers to a lack of clarity about how to interpret something.

  • What is important in thinking about such times and the future?

I am an expert on Sustainable Development Goals. SDGs and Sustainability are extremely important concepts. The SDGs, which started in 2016, set 17 goals and 169 targets for the ideal state by 2030. But the really important part of the SDG is their Preamble and Declaration which also is the basic principle. 

The SDGs preach well-being that encompasses human society and the entire natural world. The keyword for that is sustainability. However, we are currently facing problems related to the global environment, infectious diseases, conflicts and wars, energy and food supplies that we have never anticipated. Sustainable activities alone are no longer enough to realize a society where no one is left behind. We have to reset the conventional way of thinking and make our way ahead with a completely new way of thinking. We need to dramatically change the status quo. I think that keyword for that is regeneration. From sustainability to regeneration, that’s my most important concept today.

  • Sustainability: A Promise for Future Generations

So which nation is the most suitable for regeneration? 

All topics related to the SDGs are issues of the future. The environment underlies each of those goals – from eliminating hunger to reducing inequalities to building sustainable communities around the world. Sustainable development has been defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs. Therefore, the present-day concerns would be reflected as the problem for young people and for children who are yet to be born. 

Where is a nation that with over 25 million births per year, more than 50% of the population under the age of 25, and a total population of over 1.4 billion, and the total population will be number one in the world next year?

  • Technology & Industrial Development

In today’s world or the future, the acceleration and transfer of technological innovations is a common concern. Innovative pathways are needed to allow countries to leap forward. Moreover, regeneration is not caused by traditional old-fashioned companies. New industries, new companies and entrepreneurs will take over. 

Then, where is the nation that 75,000 startups are currently in operation, and is the second largest startup nation after the United States?

Innovative technological development and commercialization that cause regeneration can no longer be handled by the power of a single nation. It can only be realized through cooperation and collaboration with other nations and international organizations, exchange and procurement of human resources, material resources, and financial resources. 

  • Cooperative Globalization 

At such times, leading the world towards a cooperative framework would play a massive role in setting up SDGs. Bilateral cooperation is not enough, and trilateral or multilateral cooperation is essential. Then, where is a nation that does not form a single alliance but maintains all-round friendly diplomatic relations with the United States, European nations, Southeast Asian nations, Japan, Australia, African nations, and Russia?

SDGs major theme is diversity and inclusion. By acknowledging diversity and incorporating it into the organization and community, innovative ideas and regeneration are born. Then, where is a nation that has 574 officially recognized tribes, about 1,600 languages, 22 official languages, and realizes Unity in Diversity?

The answers to all questions related to sustainability, technology, industrial development, and global cooperation as posed above clearly direct the world towards India. India is the most suitable nation for the future Well-being on a global scale and Regeneration for that purpose. That is exactly why I am looking at India.

  • And where is the best partner for India to make it happen? 

I think it’s Japan. Japan is not a very huge land nation. However, our science and technology development is progressing, and we excel in establishing manufacturing processes that are precise with high quality-control to commercialize them.

On the other hand, Japan has the fastest aging society in the world. The number of aged people continues to increase year by year. In Japan, such aged people are guaranteed a comfortable life, their well-being is improved, health and welfare systems are enhanced, and the system is established.

Indeed, it can be said that Japan is a developed nation aging and solving social problems, second only to some European nations. If Japan’s soft power and India’s hard power combine, they can become the world’s most powerful partner in solving future social problems.

There are considerable differences between the two methods. The Japanese take their time planning and focus on the process. It can also be called lean type. It can be said that Indians work very quickly to obtain results and deliverables, and often have a flexible mindset in methods and means. It can also be called an agile type. However, I think that Indians and Japanese essentially have the same philosophical backbone and often share the ultimate goal.

I do not intend to blindly try to tie India and Japan together. Such attempts are by no means sustainable. What I aim for is for India and Japan to be working together to create revolutionary innovation to promote well-being, planetary health, and planetary security on a global scale that embraces human society and nature, looking ahead to the post-SDGs era based on the current SDGs framework. 

Ikuo Kawauchi
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Ikuo Kawauchi is the International Analyst & Business Expert at Tatvita Analysts. He is an Advisor to Pimpri Chinchwad University, and Indo-japan Business Council (IJBC). He has graduated from Keio University Economics Department and got a Master's degree in International Corporation Studies at Kibi International University Graduation School of International Corporation and Development. He had been working for a Japanese manufacturing company for over 30 years and worked in the field of business strategy, business planning and new business, overseas business development and marketing research. He has a great deal of knowledge in all areas of industry and experience in business activities. Especially he went to India dozens of times and has more than a thousand connections in a broad range of fields in India.

His current activities have 5 pillars, i.e.,

1. Business consulting, mainly Japan-India relations,

2. SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Advisor & Lecturer,

3. Startup Entrepreneur Mentor & Advisor,

4. Japan’s Regional Revitalization Advisor and

5. Academic activities.

His current affiliation includes CEO; Asia-Africa Institute LLC, Founding Board Member, Japan India Sustainable Business Initiatives (JISBI); Managing Director NPO India Japan Friendship Center, Japan; Advisor, BDB India Private Limited; Expat Orbit LLC.  Representative of Japan Desk; International Advisor, NGO Sewa Foundation; Member of the SDGs for Regional Revitalization Public-Private Partnership Platform, the Cabinet Office of Japan; Public Private Partnership Disaster Prevention DX Promotion Council, Digital Agency, Cabinet of Japan; The Japan Society For International Development(JASID); The Japanese Association for South Asian Studies(JASAS); Japan Association for Asian Studies(JAAS); The International House of Japan; and The Japan-India Association.

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