Roundtable Discussion on Japan’s Strategic Trajectory and Implications for India By U.S. Speaker Nichloas Szechenyi (at EY Office)


AmCham Eastern Region in Association with the Public Affairs section of the American Consulate, Kolkata, had a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.  The guest speaker was Mr Nicholas Szechenyi Deputy Director of the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategical and International Studies (CSIS) where he is also a senior fellow.


Mr. Dinesh Agarwal, Chairman Amcham Eastern Chapter opened the discussions and welcomed the American Team and the guests from Japan Company – MCPI.  He invited Mr Nicholas Szechenyi to open the floor.  Mr. Szechenyi began by saying that with partners like India, the USA is trying to strike a balance in engaging with China and persuading it from not carrying out any coercive activities in the region. According to an expert on international relations, “The role of the United States is to ensure that we all are pursuing a process of engagement with China that leads to constructive relationships and economic cooperation”.  He also mentioned that “On the other hand, we have to signal that China’s military ambitions and possible coercive activities can potentially destabilize the region which is not in our interests”.  Mr Szechenyi, whose research focuses on US-Japan relations and US-East Asia relations, rejected the notion that America is trying to contain China.  He added that it is “quite natural” for US, Japan and India to enhance defense cooperation because the same sends a very strong signal of coordination and cooperation in the region for regional stability. The expert claimed that China’s activities in East China Sea, Indian Ocean and land reclamation in South China Sea has increased the demand for US engagement in the region. “China has been engaging in a particular behavior, particularly in maritime domain which raises questions about what its long-term ambitions are strategically in the region” he said adding that the question is how to manage China’s rise. Mr Szechenyi also said that it is not clear whether China wants to socialize, follow the rules and norms of the international community or whether it wants a new set of rules for the region.


Mr. Dinesh Agarwal thanked Mr Szechenyi for sharing his insights on the political and economic affairs on the South East and East Asia.  He aslo briefed on how investment opportunities between countries in South Asia would be beneficial to all.  He mentioned that the “MAKE IN INDIA” campaign of India’s Prime Minister will help in increasing investments in manufacturing area in India.  He also mentioned that Kolkata being located at a strategic region (being located between couple small countries in the region) is likely to play an important role in the all-round development of India.  The development of India would also contribute to stability in the region.  He said that there has been positivity towards the development in this this area and he believes that the increasing relationship between India, US & Japan would further assist in development of the India and other countries in the region.


Mr. Suranjan Bhanja in his concluding remarks suggested if CSIS could guide AmCham members seeking business opportunities in Japan from the key thrust sectors that have earmarked by their present Government.