Modi's Japan visit aimed at boosting strategic global partnership
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarking on a visit to Japan on Saturday for the annual summit with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the special strategic and global partnership that the two sides share is expected to get a further impetus.
This will be Modi's third visit to Japan for the summit and his 12th meeting with Abe since 2014.
Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and development aid under Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme, of which India is the largest recipient, will be the key focus areas during the summit.
At a media briefing, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the Indo-Pacific will be a major topic for discussion during the summit on Monday.
"If you make a comparison, you will see that there are a number of areas of convergence, commonality and common vision," Gokhale said.
"The two leaders will obviously discuss how we can take this vision forward and present it to the world and try to see how we can concretise it."
Last year, a quad comprising India, Japan, the US and Australia was revived that seeks to work for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
Gokhale said one of the areas forming a part of this discussion will be how India and Japan can collaborate in the context of the Indo-Pacific in Asia and in Africa and on capacity building and on infrastructure projects in a trilateral format -- India, Japan plus one.
Similar views were reflected by Japanese Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu during an interaction organised by New Delhi-based think-tank Brookings India earlier this week.
"I am sure in the (upcoming) meeting, the two leaders will discuss the region in more concrete terms," Hiramatsu said.
He said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc has to play a central role in the Indo-Pacific region, a view that India also holds.
The regional security situation will be another area of discussion in view of Japan's interest in developments in the Korean Peninsula and in North Korea.
"We will certainly raise our concerns over terrorism and other international trans-border crimes," Gokhale said.
The Foreign Secretary stressed that bilateral issues will be of special interest during the discussions between the two leaders, both at the one-to-one level and delegation-level talks.
He said the foremost of these would be how to leverage Japan as a development aid partner for India's economic modernisation and flagship development programmes such as Skill India, Make in India, and Digital India, as also the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the high-speed rail project was held during Abe's visit to India in September last year for the annual bilateral summit.
With Japan already having released the first tranche of Rs 5,500 crore for the rail project, Gokhale said that discussions will now be held for the second tranche.
Also, there will be discussions on the Dedicated Freight Corridor that is close to its time framework.
Costing nearly Rs 50,000 crore, Japanese assistance for this has been to the tune of Rs 38,000 crore.
With Modi describing Japan as the cornerstone of New Delhi's Act East Policy, Gokhale said that connectivity projects in the Northeast will be of special focus during the discussions.
Defence and security cooperation will be another area of discussion.
Stating that India has shown interest in Japanese submarines, Ambassador Hiramatsu said that talks are going on for this though there has been no outcome as yet.
"We are also discussing a Japanese high-tech amphibian aircraft also and I hope there will be progress made in this regard (during the summit)," Hiramatsu said.
Modi will also attend a series of business events during the course of his visit to the East Asian powerhouse.
This will be followed by a meeting between the India-Japan Business Leaders Forum.
On Sunday, the first day of his official visit, Modi will visit the Yamanashi prefecture near Tokyo, which has a sizeable industrial base.
Given the known personal chemistry between the two leaders, Abe will host Modi for a private dinner at the former's holiday home in Yamanushi following which both will travel to Tokyo the same evening for the official engagements the next day.