In religious, cultural and historic symbiosis with the Indian world since the dawn of time, enmeshed in a relationship of mutual respect and exchange with China for a very long time, and fascinated by the experience of Japanese modernisation since the end of the nineteenth century, Iran has always maintained very close relationships with the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. Although in the nineteenth century these relationships were reduced to the bare essentials, since the decade of the 1990s (the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR, followed by the rise in US hegemony and the 11 September 2001 attacks), Iran has expanded and consolidated relations with India, China and Japan in terms of politics, business and energy, to such an extent that one can legitimately talk of an “Eastward focus”. Through its Asian culture, the Islamic Republic, a key state in South-West Asia, has been attempting to take its place in the Asian geopolitical chess game. Objectives Iran is pursuing include reducing its dependence on Europe, improving national security, acquiring military equipment, accessing nuclear technology and escaping from pressure from the United States. That does not mean that Teheran is neglecting relations with Malaysia, North and South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and the central Asian republics, but its Asian policy focusses first and foremost on developing special relationships with the three Asian giants, India, China and Japan.
Relations with these three countries are crucially important, not only against the current backdrop of the Iranian nuclear crisis but also, more widely, in terms of strengthening energy relations between countries in the Persian Gulf region and the rest of Asia, due in part to the continued economic development of China and, more recently, India. Against this background, this Analysis of relations among these countries is information-packed, recalling the importance of India, China and Japan on the chessboard of international relations.