India has invited Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe to be the chief guest during the Republic Day function here on January 26. This is the first time a Japan dignitary has been invited for the parade.
The move is expected to boost strategic and business ties between both as Abe will be accompanied by a huge business delegation comprising mostly representatives of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The visit, after a series of visits by Japan off late, is seen as another effort by Japan to befriend India even as it gets increasingly involved in a bitter territorial dispute with China.
During the last five years, bilateral trade increased 80 per cent; both exports and imports rose 80 per cent. However, due to the slowdown, the two-way trade grew one per cent in 2012-2013 on 2011-2012. Both have set a goal of $25 billion by 2014.
The number of Japanese firms operating in India is 900. India remains the second-favourite investment destination for Japanese companies after China, according to a survey by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC).
It is expected Abe is also going to push India to sign the long-pending Civil Nuclear Agreement.
It is believed Abe, after his re-election in 2012, has been persisting India to sign the deal. India had delayed the talks, which started in 2010, following the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011.
But talks were revived in May, with the last round of negotiations taking place November 7-8.
During the parade, India showcases its military might in terms of troops and weaponry.
Since 2005, relationship between both countries has grown a lot, with the establishment of ‘The Global Partnership between Japan and India in the 21st Century.’ This is an initiative that Japan has done only with US.
This was one of the main initiatives that India took as part of its look-east policy under the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and counterpart Yoshiro Mori.
Recently, with the visit of the Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, the relationship has grown. This was the first time a Japanese emperor and empress visited India. This is much more than being mere symbolic as the emperor is considered to be at the centre of cultural fabric of the Japanese society. The visit was cleared by their cabinet.