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India and Japan step up fight against Covid 19 in the Northeast

On Friday, the Government of Japan decided to extend Emergency Grant Aid of approximately 14.8 million US dollars to India in response to the current surge of Covid-19 infections in the country (Image courtesy: Embassy of Japan in India)

India and Japan have stepped up their fight against the second wave of Covid-19 in the North East, adding substance to New Delhi's Act East Policy and Japan's Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy. The two countries are also strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific Quad, which also includes Australia and the United States.

Earlier this month, as the second wave of pandemic spread in India at an unprecedented pace, Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered to provide oxygen generation plants to the North Eastern states. In order to tackle the acute shortage of medical oxygen, the Japanese support enabled UNDP in procuring and installing eight Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) oxygen generation plants in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.

"India's North East occupies a special place for Japan-India relations and I sincerely hope that the Oxygen generation plants will help those people in need in the North Eastern Region of India," said Satoshi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan to India.

The two countries are customising  manufacturing and skill development for the North East, anchored by a flurry of connectivity and developmental projects. For instance, Japan has been a lead foreign contributor in building the strategic Dhubri-Phulbari bridge which would play a critical role in connecting Bhutan with Dan Nang in Vietnam. Analysts say that the bridge is a live illustration of Japan's active partnership with India to substantiate New Delhi's Act East policy which has connecting northeast India with the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as the core.

On Friday, the Government of Japan decided to extend Emergency Grant Aid of approximately 14.8 million US dollars to India in response to the current surge of Covid-19 infections in the country.

With the assistance announced today, an additional 1,000 ventilators and 2,000 oxygen concentrators will be provided to India through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as a part of the assistance of up to 50 million dollars announced on May 5.

As a result, 1,800 ventilators and 2,800 oxygen concentrators in total will be provided to India through a series of recent Japanese assistance.

"The number of cases are declining, but we can’t let our guard down. We remain committed to helping our friends in India," tweeted the Japanese Embassy in India.

India Quad Covid

At the QUAD Leaders' Summit in March, PM Narendra Modi had launched a landmark partnership against Covid

The latest shipment follows the rapid branching out of India-Japan ties steered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japan PM Suga Yoshihide. Apart from the immediacy of the Covid-19 challenge, the two countries, along with Australia, are also looking at building robust new supply chains that are no longer reliant on China.

Observers point out that India's rapidly growing relationship with Japan in the northeast follows the decision by the two countries in 2017 to set up the India-Japan Act East Forum, during the visit of then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India.

The Act East Forum, identifies specific projects for economic modernization of India’s North-East region including those pertaining to connectivity, developmental infrastructure, industrial linkages as well as people-to-people contacts through tourism, culture and sports-related activities.


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