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Japan keen to boost ties with India under Modi

The Hindu BusinessLine:  May, 2014

New Delhi: Japan has made clear its interest in forging closer economic ties with India under the Narendra Modi-led Government.

Soon after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited Modi to make Japan one of his first foreign visit destinations, senior officials from investment and project funding agencies of the Japanese Government met Industry Secretary Amitabh Kant to discuss investment and funding plans in India’s industrial corridor projects.

Japanese Ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi led a delegation of officials from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Bank for International Cooperation, (JBIC), New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation and the Japanese External Trade Relations Organisation to meet Kant last week.

“The discussions were mainly on the investments in the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and future investments in the Chennai Bangalore Industrial Corridor,” Kant told Business Line.

Japan, which is also India’s eleventh largest export destination, has committed $4.5 billion for the DMIC project which seeks to develop a global manufacturing and investment destination by utilising a high capacity 1,483 km long western dedicated Freight Corridor as the backbone.

Talks are now on to build a similar industrial corridor between Chennai and Bangalore with Japan’s financial as well as technological support.

Japan has been wooing India even under the UPA Government - under which it signed a bilateral Free Trade Agreement - not only for economic gains but also for strategic reasons to check China’s influence in the region. Abe would want the relationship to continue and grow stronger under the BJP-led Government, a Commerce Ministry official said.

“Shinzo Abe has always shared a good relationship with Narendra Modi.

He visited Modi in Gujarat during his India visit in 2007. In his telephonic conversation with Modi, the Japanese Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants strategic as well as economic relations to become stronger,” the official said.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference in Tokyo last week that Modi was very friendly toward Japan.

“We expect to further deepen our political and economic relation with India,” Suga said.

Japanese newspaper Kyodo News quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the BJP was in talks with Japanese officials over a possible trip to Tokyo.