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Top 10 areas of opportunity for India-Japan ties, according to Softbank's man in India

Softbank's India country head Manoj Kohli thinks these are the top 10 areas where India and Japan could collaborate.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Apart from sectors like automobiles, robotics, and information technology, these are the 10 areas that India and Japan can collaborate on and further strengthen their relations.

1. Investment - Japan is among the top investors in India, it is the fifth largest investor in the Indian economy. Japan is once again ready to invest in India to boost the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Japan will invest $42 billion over the course of the next five years in India. Apart from other sectors like electronics ,automobiles and technology, Japan will invest in highways, electric vehicles and renewable energy.

2. Manufacturing - India has been good at manufacturing, India has a number of benefits that could help the country to emerge and develop into a manufacturing powerhouse, including a sizable engineer pool, a young labor force and a sizable local market for produced goods. India has been exporting not only to Japan but to many other countries as well, like the United States, Europe and South Korea. India’s Prime Minister - Narendra Modi initiatives like ‘Make in India’ have facilitated investment, encouraged innovation, improved skill development, safeguarded intellectual property, and constructed finest manufacturing infrastructure. With the PLI - Production Linked Incentive scheme which focuses on promoting Telecom, boosting manufacturing & Networking Products Manufacturing in India, the monthly mobile phone shipments from India surpassed $1 billion (over 8,200 crore) for the first time, this was encouraged by the government's production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, which has pushed global companies such as Apple and Samsung to enhance domestic as well as international output. In the upcoming years, manufacturing can boost the relationship between India and Japan.

3. Software - India’s export services have increased, India has exported $300 billion in the year 2021, Japan can benefit from this strength of India. The younger generation of India is talented and innovative with many Indian engineers now focusing on AI, machine learning and many other computer programs. Software is an area that India and Japan has not much focussed on, Japan is the world’s second largest IT - Information Technology market with which India can take advantage from. With the current economic situation of Japan and declining employment rate, Japan is in need of experts and professionals from all sectors. Japan's information technology (IT) sector is experiencing a severe labour shortage and India's IT sector has caught Japan's attention in particular.

4. Startups and unicorns - Indian startups are doing exceptionally well, Since 2021, the number of unicorn startups in India has doubled. Since the past few years, India's startups have drawn billions of dollars from foreign markets including Japan. Up to this point, Japan has invested $9.2 billion in total, driven primarily by high-value transactions from investors like Softbank. In addition to many others, the company has funded a number of the top startups in the nation, including OYO, Paytm, Ola, Grofers, Swiggy, and Unacademy. The company has invested billions of dollars in the startup environment in India, putting a number of them into the unicorn club. India is also leading the world market in digital payments, due to the pandemic digital transactions are on the rise and have gone through a remarkable change. Japan’s businesses are interested in India’s ecosystem and any collaboration of Japan with India can strengthen ties and relations between the two countries. At the same time, Japan is on its path to be a thriving place for startups, despite the repercussions of pandemic on Japan’s economy the country has established to be a major center for its ecosystem. In 2018, Japan India startup hub was formed to make it possible for startups, investors, incubators, and aspiring entrepreneurs from both nations to collaborate and give them access to the resources they need for market entry and international expansion.

5. Education - Cooperation in education is also a significant part of bilateral ties and cooperation between the two countries. Many of the Japanese universities are now attracting Indian students who want to pursue their education abroad. To promote its universities, colleges and institutions, Japan has participated in educational fairs in India.

6. Pharmacy and healthcare - India's thriving pharmaceuticals sector is now a vital part of the world's healthcare system. India has demonstrated outstanding efforts in international collaboration during the COVID-19 epidemic by supplying medications to developing as well as developed nations. India has also provided vaccination to one billion people and has been giving citizens free vaccine doses in rural as well as urban areas. The entire process of vaccination was done on a digital platform. The pharmaceutical sector in India is a significant component of the country's international commerce, providing routes and prospects for investment. Several Japanese companies are hoping to expand their presence in India. There has been an increase in cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector.

7. Defence - This sector can also provide partnership between India and Japan. Indian defense manufacturing has been on the rise, India is in a position to create a thriving indigenous defense industry ecosystem that could meet demand from both the domestic market and foreign markets. India is expanding its defense network as well. Both the countries are increasingly cooperating in defense in order to strengthen defense and security cooperation. Both the countries are part of many defense exercises like JIMEX, multilateral grouping like the Quad, G-20 and G-4.

8. Agriculture - India is one of the world's top exporters of agricultural goods, and the country's agriculture industry also ranks among the top producers of food and agricultural products globally. India and Japan should collaborate in the agricultural sector as well. Given that Japan only produces 40 per cent of its own food and 60 per cent of food is imported, Japan is a sizable market for agricultural and food goods. Agriculture is the sector in which Japan can leverage.

9. Tourism (especially Buddhist pilgrimage tourism) - In Japan, the senior and the elderly population investment in tourism and India can play a major role in this. As not many people come to India for tourism purposes, India should make an effort to be one of the top destinations for tourism in Japan. India and Japan are exploring new prospects and finding areas for collaboration in the tourism sector, particularly in the areas of human resource development, the interchange of tour operators, investments in the industry, and the sharing of information relevant to the sector. India and Japan each have significant tourism markets. Buddhism is the main religion that is being practiced in Japan and Buddhist places in India can attract a number of tourists from Japan.

10. Music and Bollywood - The Japanese youth have a keen interest in Bollywood and its music. The Japanese youth have acquired a liking towards bollywood music and dance. Japanese restaurants and nightclubs play Indian music. Indian artists and movies have a significant impact and influence in Japanese society.

(This is from a speech Kohli gave at an India-Japan dialogue event organised by India Foundation, a New Delhi-based think-tank.)


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