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Nuclear deal, defence pacts to top PM's Japan visit

Three-day visit from August 31; Modi, Abe meeting expected on September 1

Nayanima Basu  |  New Delhi 

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister will visit from August 31 to September 3 with a power-packed agenda that might see both sides signing the long-pending civil nuclear cooperation deal.

“India and have a strategic and global partnership. The visit of the prime minister to will further strengthen the bond of friendship between India and Japan,” stated the ministry of external affairs here on Friday.

During the three-day visit, Modi is expected to meet Japanese emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Modi and Abe are expected to meet on September 1 and discuss a wide range of issues concerning bilateral and strategic ties.

“The government of Japan sincerely welcomes the visit of (India’s) prime minister, which will further strengthen the friendly relations between Japan and India,” the Japan Embassy stated.

The PM’s visit was expected to take place in July but was postponed as Japan wanted India to come up with something concrete that would “escalate the ties to the next level,” officials told Business Standard.
This visit is going to be high on strategic and defence cooperation and the civil nuclear cooperation agreement is expected to be signed formally. Negotiations for a with Japan started in 2010 but following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the talks slowed, with India expressing serious safety concerns.

Both sides revived the talks last year under the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. In January this year Prime Minister Abe visited India as the chief guest for the Republic Day Parade, both parties agreed to clinch the deal soon.

“Some of the key takeaways from the visit could be the civil and the defence deal. Apparently, the matter was also discussed during (External Affairs Minister) Sushma Swaraj’s meeting with his Japanese counterpart in Myanmar (earlier this month). The long-term goal is collective self-defence,” said Srikanth Kondapalli of the Centre for East Asian Studies at the School of International Studies (JNU).
Besides, Abe is also keen to throw open his country’s defence sector. As a result, it is expected that during this visit the deal on purchasing Japanese US-2 amphibious aircrafts might also reach its final leg. The joint working group on this matter had met in March.
If this goes through then India will be the first country to buy defence equipment from Japan. Under the $1.65 billion deal, India is expected to buy 15 amphibious patrol aircraft.
Both sides also carry out a bilateral exercise between the Indian Navy (IN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
According to Sanjana Joshi of ICRIER the growing defence cooperation between India and Japan is also aimed at arresting China’s increasing assertion over the region.
“The geo-political context in which Japan and India ties have undergone a transformation in recent years is China’s growing regional assertiveness. From Tokyo’s perspective, expanding Sino-Japanese trade and investment has not mitigated the security tensions between the two. India has moved up substantially in Japan’s strategic priorities,” Joshi said.
Japan is also involved in some of India’s flagship infrastructure projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Bangalore-Chennai economic corridor. So far Japan has invested around $100 billion for these projects.

India is also going to invite Japan in establishing high-speed railways networks here, including the introduction of bullet trains with Japan’s Shinkansen system.

First Published: Sat, August 16 2014. 00:34 IST
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