About The Japan-India Association

The Journey of the Japan-India Association

In the 36th year of Meiji (1903), Messrs. Viscount Moriyoshi Nagaoka, Marquis Shigenobu Ohkuma, Viscount Eiichi Shibusawa and other eminent personalities inaugurated the Japan-India Association for the purpose of deepening friendship and promoting mutual relations between Japan and India. Viscount Nagaoka was from an illustrious Daimyo family of Hosakawa in Kyushu. Marquis Ohkuma was the 17th Prime Minister of Japan under the Emperor of Meiji and the founder of the actual Waseda University, one of the most prestigious private universities of Japan. Viscount Shibusawa established several important banks and about a hundred companies of almost all the industrial sectors; he was called “Father of Japan’s capitalism. All of them were convinced of the strong ties to be forged by spiritual sharing and understood the need of developing Japan-India relations as two most important countries of newly-born Asia, not only economic but political areas. They assumed the first three chairmanships of the Association. Thanks to them, India became one of Japan’s valuable partners, especially in commercial trade, and Japan started to be known by Indians as well.

During Taisho Era (1912-1925) and the beginning of Showa Era (1925-1940), the Association’s endeavor centered on economic activities. Japan Commodity House was opened in Calcutta (present Korkata) and a train bazaar visited big cities in India to exhibit Japanese commodities. Gradually Japanese communities started to enlarge in Bombay, Calcutta and other Indian cities. Indian Communities in Japan also merged and developed in Yokohama, Kobe and other cities. This greatly contributed to increasing the trade and to nurturing mutual understanding between India and Japan. In 1939, the Japanese Government awarded the Association a status of “foundation under the law”.

After the World War Two, the Occupation Army of U.S.A. banned the Association from operating, for the reason that during the War it had cooperated with India's Independence movement. However, the Association, under the name of The Indo-Japan Economic Association began to restart activities in connection with India which had just achieved its independence in 1947. For, Japan then needed desperately to trade with India to restore its economy from ashes. The Association worked side-by-side the Government of Japan to promote economic relations and cultural exchanges.

In 1952, Mr. Hisato Ichimada, then governor of the Bank of Japan (Central Bank), became chairman of the Association, which by then had regained the original name of the Japan-India Association. He expanded Association’s work also to cultural exchanges between the two countries.

In 1977, Deputy Yoshio Sakurauchi M.P. succeeded Mr. Ichimada as chairman. Eventually, he became president of the House of Representatives (Lower House) of the Japan’s Diet. During his tenure over 25 years including the period as Japan’s foreign minister, while interacting very closely with leaders of India in both the government and the private economic sector, he organized in India and Japan various cultural events such as lectures and conferences, movie showings, dancing performances, painting and photo exhibitions, donation of cherry trees to India, etc.. Thus, both countries came to be even more closely associated with each other in respective cultures, and people to people interactions between the two countries were intensified.

In December of 2002, Deputy Yoshiro Mori M.P. who had just quitted premiership of Japan assumed the stewardship of the Association. Just before that, as the prime minister of Japan, he made a historically important official visit to India in August 2002 and took initiatives to restore normalcy in the bilateral relationship which had been cooled down by India's nuclear experiments in 1998. Mr. Mori also laid down the basis for mutual cooperation in the field of IT industry. In 2001, Mr. Mori was sent as special envoy by Prime Minister Obuchi to convey to the Indian Government the resumption of Japan’s official loan programs (Yen loan). In 2002, the Japanese Government took initiatives to cerebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the Association played active roles in the programs. In 2003, as president of the Association, Chairman Mori took charge of important functions to cerebrate the 100th anniversary of the Association. Many people in governmental, economic and cultural circles participated in the cerebration from both the countries.

In June 2007, the Association decided to create a presidency under the chairmanship to cope with increasingly accelerating relations between Japan and India. Mr. Hiroshi Hirabayashi, who had been ambassador of Japan in India for four years and half from 1998 to 2002, was nominated the first president of the Association under Mr. Mori’s chairmanship. The duo started to renovate and strengthen the Association so that it will be able to lead Japan-India relations in ever-changing Asian equations.

In June 2022, Akitaka Saiki, former Ambassador of Japan to India, was newly appointed President of the Board of Directors, and has been actively engaged in domestic and international activities. In January 2023, former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga succeeded the late Shinzo Abe as chairman.

Our Association's official publication “Monthly Journal India" has been issued without interruption for over 100 years to contribute to introducing India to Japanese audience. Tokyo University of Foreign Studies keeps in microfilms all the monthlies from the 1st issue in Meiji 42nd year (1909) to the latest one. These data are invaluable records of Indo-Japan' long history of mutual interaction.

In the library of the Association are kept more than 2,000 books in Japanese and foreign languages concerning India, which are available for free to the public (Association members can borrow them) during 1030--1630 hours on working days.

The symbol mark of the Association is "Namaste"; which shows both hands pressed, meaning respect for each other. This beautiful custom has been adopted in both the countries over so many centuries.