India, China, and Japan’s policy of Asian regionalism
India was marginalized in Japan’s Asian policy during 1958–1966 and only came back in the 2000s. This chapter explains the marginalization and resurgence of India in Japan’s Asian policy in the context of the China–India–Japan triangle. Instead of using the overall power configuration as an explanatory variable, the chapter uses both economic and ideational factors to explain Japan’s perception of the relationship between East Asia and itself. In the early post-World War period, India was an ideal partner for Japan. Ideationally, India had not been affected by Japanese excesses in World War II. Economically, India could potentially compensate for the loss of China. However, India did not fit into Japan’s vision of regionalism where an economic logic was supreme. India, on its part, looked down on Japan’s merchant-like approach. India–Japan relations were like the relationship between a brahmin and a bania. The India–China war of 1962 set the trend for the marginalization of India in Japan’s regionalism. Politicians and intellectuals were more sympathetic to China. Bureaucrats and business were more interested in trade agreements with China. It is therefore surprising to see the reverse in Japan’s perspectives on India and China in the 2000s. China’s resurrection of the history issue and its denial of Japan’s global role made Japan insecure about its position in Asia. Also, China’s massive economic expansion in Southeast Asia was eroding Japan’s traditional role in Asia. At this juncture, Japan turned to India. Negotiating for expanding the membership of the East Asia Summit, Japan argued for a rule-based order and greater inclusiveness. This brahmin-like approach had the effect of distancing Japan from China on the one hand and embracing India on the other hand.