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India and Japan on Thursday signed 15 memorandums of understanding (MoUs), which dealt with wide-ranging issues such as bilateral relations, defence and security cooperation, and supporting each other for a permanent seat in the United Nations’ expanded Security Council.
While no figure was released on how much Japanese companies planned to invest in India, some sources said it would be around Rs 5 lakh crore, including the flagship bullet train project. One of the more import MoUs was on civil aviation cooperation and open skies.
They said the growing bilateral relations between the two countries could play a stabilising role in South Asia. This is important as both India and Japan are trying to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
Apart from fresh investment proposals at the summit, Modi claimed Japan’s foreign direct investment (FDI) to India had actually trebled in the past few years, a testimony to the growing economic ties. So far, around $25.7 billion has flown in as FDI from Japan; the plan now is to double this by 2019.
Modi and Abe also used the summit to jointly condemn North Korea’s latest nuclear test and uranium enrichment activities, urging the hermit nation to comply with UNSC resolutions.
MoUs were signed in the areas of disaster risk management, skill development, connectivity for the Northeast, and open-sky civil aviation, among others. Deals were also inked to bring fresh food from Japan to India for Japanese expats, apart from infrastructure development in Gujarat’s Mandal Bechraj-Khoraj region. The two PMs welcomed the start of the first four Japan-India Institutes for Manufacturing (JIMs) in Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu in 2017.
Abe said the two countries had agreed upon a Japan-India investment support road map.
But, one of the most significant joint announcements was when the two called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens. India and Japan vowed to cooperate to tackle terrorist groups and the joint statement by the two countries mentioned names such as Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The two leaders also demanded Pakistan to initiate action against terrorist outfits responsible for attacks in Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot (2016). The joint statement said, “They (Modi and Abe) looked forward to convening the fifth Japan-India Consultation on Terrorism and to strengthening cooperation against terrorist threats.”
Besides entering into agreement for cooperation in the “Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy”, Japan and India also welcomed the renewed momentum for trilateral cooperation with the US and Australia, and resolved to work with regional partners to ensure a rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific Region.
The talks, however, were not just confined to economic and diplomatic cooperation. Japan has agreed to help India build a convention centre in Varanasi. Calling it a symbol of cultural cooperation between the two countries, Modi said Abe had conceptualised it during his last visit to the town.