Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, before their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on March 20 (Reuters Photo)

With a population of more than 1.4 billion, India is known as the world’s largest democracy with a rapidly growing economy. It is the self-appointed “spokesman” for emerging and developing countries. This year, New Delhi is holding the rotating presidency of the Group of 20 major powers.

Japan and India should enhance their bilateral cooperation in ways that go beyond their national interests and help maintain a stable world order.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida this week visited New Delhi for talks with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Kishida invited Modi to attend the Group of Seven summit to be held in May in Hiroshima and told him that Japan will seek to expand its ties with emerging and developing nations that are collectively referred to as “Global South.”

The G-7 members have been united in supporting Ukraine since Russia staged its invasion a little over a year ago. They have punished Russia with economic sanctions and other measures. But the world’s leading industrial nations have not won many friends among emerging and developing countries in these efforts.

India itself has maintained a friendly relationship with Russia since the era of the Soviet Union and still purchases nearly half of its major weapons from Russia. India has consistently abstained from votes on U.N. resolutions condemning Russia. It has not joined the international sanctions against Moscow and even increased Russian oil imports.

During his meeting with Modi, Kishida asserted that unilateral change of the status quo by force must not be allowed in any part of the world, including Asia. The two leaders agreed on the importance of maintaining and strengthening the world order based on the rule of law.

This is a principle that India, which is locked in a border dispute with China, can support. It could serve as a basis for bilateral cooperation in responding to the crisis in Ukraine.

This year’s G-20 summit, to be held in September in New Delhi, will be attended not only by the G-7 nations but also by China, which has bolstered its relations with Russia, and major countries in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

In a joint news conference following his meeting with Kishida, Modi said, “Giving voice to the priorities of Global South is an important pillar of our G-20 presidency.”

Stopping Russia’s aggression against Ukraine requires unity not just among the G-7 nations but among many members of the international community. Apparently responding to Modi’s foreign policy agenda, Kishida stressed Tokyo’s commitment to helping emerging and developing countries tackle their tough policy challenges, such as food and energy crunches. We hope India will play an active role as a bridge between the G-7 and the emerging and developing world.

India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation, probably by the end of this year. It is also expected to become the world’s largest economy in the future. These future prospects make it vital for Japan to develop and deepen multi-layered ties with India in trade, investment, human exchanges and other areas.

In recent yeas, Japan has been expanding security cooperation with India in an apparent response to China’s military buildup. The Self-Defense Forces has carried out a number of joint exercises with the Indian military.

But such cooperation should be designed to promote regional peace and stability without raising tensions.

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 25