National / Politics | AMBASSADOR VISIT

India's new ambassador to Japan sees strong potential in technology cooperation

by Masumi Koizumi

Staff Writer

India’s new ambassador to Japan believes the two countries can complement each other in terms of talent and technology, and that cooperation could lead to new innovations.

“Indian software competence, married with Japanese hardware production … if these two can merge together, you have embedded systems on very efficient hardware, which can lead to new products,” Sanjay Kumar Verma said during a courtesy visit to The Japan Times on Wednesday.

Verma, who began his current stint on Jan. 17, sees it as his mission to “increase engagement” between India and Japan “in all sectors and fields.”

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tokyo last October, the two governments agreed to cooperate on a range of objectives, from regional security to promoting digital industries. Verma is looking to carry that vision forward.

Democracy, technology, startups — “all these fields are open for global leadership and we need to collaborate with each other,” he said. “The digital economy is now becoming synonymous (with) India and Japan.”

The combination of Japan’s labor shortage and India’s youthful workforce makes the countries a “good match,” Verma said, noting that over 60 percent of his country’s 1.3 billion people are aged 35 or under. This presents a “huge complementarity,” he said.

“India has been sending engineers (to Japan), depending on the demand of the Japanese companies and Japanese market. The only difficulty so far faced is the Japanese language,” he said.

When it comes to security, Verma stressed the need to ensure the “rule of law” prevails in the Indo-Pacific region.

Asked about the rise of China, he avoided singling out Beijing but said that when any country attempts to “behave in a unipolar manner, that is the time all other countries have to get together and tell them, ‘That’s not OK.'”

Verma, 53, has worked at Indian consulate generals and embassies around the world, including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Turkey and Italy. He was also ambassador to Sudan. Before his appointment to Japan, he was responsible for administration and cyber diplomacy at the Indian foreign ministry. His interests include information technology and artificial intelligence, as well as facilitating small business and investment.

With Japan, Verma aims to help build bridges for doing business. “We need to do a lot together,” he said.