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PM Narendra Modi woos Japan for better trade ties

The prime minister's aim is to double the trade figure between India and Japan in the immediate future and take it past $100 billion in the next five years.

Gaurav C Sawant | September 1, 2014 | Updated 12:19 IST
PM Narendra Modi and Japan PM Shinzo Abe during their visit to Toji temple on Sunday
PM Narendra Modi and Japan PM Shinzo Abe during their visit to Toji temple on Sunday. The two leaders are said to have bonded well in Kyoto

After clearing the roadmap linking Kashi and Kyoto, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now begin the second and more challenging leg of his five-day Japan visit - to convince the country to 'make in India and invest in India'.

Despite India and Japan now talking of a new chapter in their global and strategic ties, trade between the two countries is worth less than $20 billion. The prime minister's aim is to double this figure in the immediate future and take it past $100 billion in the next five years. With that in mind, PM Modi will deliver the keynote address at a business lunch hosted by Nippon Keidanren, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and interact with members of the Japan India Business cooperation committee.


India and Japan have been engaged in talks for investment and sources say Japan is waiting to hear PM Modi's vision before it steps up investment in India. "It is a win-win situation for both Japan and India. Japan has the money and needs a vast, diverse and big market like India to invest in. The stability PM Modi's government provides ensures good results for Japanese investment. Japan also has the technical expertise to realise PM Modi's dream whether it is of the 100 smart cities, the bullet train or investment in mega infrastructure projects," sources said.

Japan has already invested in the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and the western freight corridor. "This visit is expected to give a much-needed push to the Chennai-Bangalore corridor," they added.

Though it is not clear whether there will be an agreement on the bullet train, both India and Japan are engaged in talks for the high speed train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.


"India and Japan also have a joint working group on the high speed train. This year the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) completes 50 years of blemish-free service," Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, India's ambassador to Japan, told Mail Today.

PM Modi's big push is on the role of technology in taking India forward. India hopes to acquire cutting-edge technology and innovate along with Japan in the field of transport and medicine.

"The Delhi Metro is a perfect example of this win-win story and changed the way New Delhi travels," sources said. Japan has made an emphatic pitch for Modi to buy the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train).

Both India and Japan are also expected to take the strategic relationship to the next level and an agreement for the purchase of US-2 amphibious aircraft and its joint manufacture in India is expected to be inked during the course of the current visit. But this visit is not about purchase of amphibious aircraft. Though neither India nor Japan is articulating it in as many words, the aim is to counter Beijing's muscle-flexing in the south and east China seas and also in the Indian Ocean. For India, the bigger challenge is to contain Chinese incursions along the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC), in Arunachal Pradesh, and more in eastern Ladakh. "India and Japan are expected to launch a security consultative framework where the foreign and defence ministers are to engage more regularly," sources said.

Japan's foreign minister Fumio Kishida, deputy prime minister Taro Aso and minister for economy, trade and industry Toshimitsu Motegi will call on PM Modi at the imposing 930-room, 31-storey Tokyo Imperial Hotel. Later in the afternoon, Japan's defence minister Itsunori Onodera will also call on the prime minister.

India and Japan are banking heavily on the personal rapport and bond between PM Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to take the relationship to the next level both economically and strategically. The two prime ministers have already spent a day-and-a-half together in Kyoto. After their traditional Japanese dinner at the impressive Imperial Guest House in Kyoto, PM Abe tweeted: "Quite valuable to exchange views on topics such as Japan-India cultural exchanges and international affairs."

After spending almost two days together, PM Abe will not only ceremonially welcome PM Modi at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, but there is also a special Japanese Tea Ceremony being organised in the prime minister's honour. This will be followed by restricted meeting between the two prime ministers and delegation-level talks. There are several big-ticket announcements on the cards. However, the civil nuclear energy pact is not expected to be inked, with sources insisting it is still work in progress.

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