India and Japan have had a long-term political, economic, and strategic partnership since 1958. As India faces one of the most challenging healthcare crisis, this bilateral cooperation is helping it respond to the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

Japan announced extending an emergency grant of approximately $14.8 mn to India for fighting the ongoing infection numbers. This assistance is expected to provide an additional 1,000 ventilators and 2,000 oxygen concentrators to India via United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as a part of the assistance of up to $50 mn, which was announced by the country on May 5, 2021. To date, Japan has supported India in obtaining 1,800 ventilators and 2,800 oxygen concentrators through various financial assistance.

The aid announcements were made in April-end after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga discussed cooperation in key areas such as creating resilient supply chains and ensuring a reliable supply of critical materials for overcoming the prevalent challenging posed by the pandemic in its second wave. Furthermore, the two leaders emphasized the need for early operationalization of the Specified Skilled Workers (SSW) agreement, a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to promote the movement of skilled workers from India to Japan, signed recently to synergize the country’s strengths and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Earlier in January, Japan had also committed Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan amounting to JPY 30 bn (i.e. approximately ₹ 2,113 crores) to support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households severely impacted by the pandemic. As stated by one of the officials from the Embassy of Japan, the loan is expected to deeply assist women, one of the worst-hit groups from the pandemic. The official also mentioned that the new loan combined with the previously granted amounts will support public health improvement to provide social protection to vulnerable communities by providing an impetus to existing government policies such as Prime Minister Modi’s Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).

Since the pandemic outbreak in India, Japan has been supporting the country in battling it through a multitude of financial and equipment provision assistance. Japan has also partnered with international organizations such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide assistance worth over $7.26 mn to the Indian government.

This blog has been authored by Guriya. 

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