Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew into Tokyo on Sunday for crucial summit talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe after an overnight stay in Kyoto where he visited two ancient Buddhist temples. In a significant gesture, Abe accompanied him to these temples.
Ahead of Monday’s summit talks, Indian and Japanese negotiators were working till late on Sunday night to conclude the civilian nuclear deal.
The Indian negotiators are staying at a hotel located near the Japanese Foreign Ministry and PM Abe’s offices.
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Sources told The Indian Express that Delhi wants Tokyo to accept the “Indo-US nuclear deal template”. As per that template, in case of a nuclear test, the two countries must hold consultations for a year and then decide on termination.
However, the Japanese side is not very comfortable with this template. And that discomfort stems from Japan being the only country in the world to have been the victim of a nuclear attack. Given that history, the Abe government will find it politically difficult to justify an Indo-US kind of template.
Besides, Japan Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida is a member of parliament from Hiroshima, the site of one of the two nuclear attacks on Japan. While he has publicly not spoken out against the deal, Kishida’s constituency and supporters have strong sensitivities attached to a nuclear agreement with a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
While officials were tightlipped on a breakthrough in the nuclear deal, they confirmed that apart from it, defence, infrastructure and trade will be high on the summit agenda on Monday.
The two sides are not close to any agreement on the buying of US-2 amphibious planes, but a defence cooperation agreement on maritime security is likely.
The joint working group on US-2 planes has met twice, and while the discussions are “progressing”, the deal is quite a distance away. In fact, the head of the joint working group, Amitabh Kant, is part of the delegation, to re-affirm India’s intention to buy these planes for relief and rescue operations.
Apart from the bilateral talks with Abe, Modi is scheduled to meet Japanese Cabinet ministers in separate one-on-one meetings, including Kishida, Deputy PM and Finance Minister Taro Aso, Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi, Minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Akihiro Ohta, and Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera.
On Sunday, on the second day the Kyoto leg of his trip, Modi visited two Buddhist temples — Toji and Kinkakuji — met Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa and toured the Stem Cell Research Facility at Kyoto University.
After prayers at the temples, Modi mingled with people and tourists. He thanked Abe for accompanying him to the Toji temple and spending time with him. The Japanese PM rarely greets a foreign leader outside the national capital.
Abe, for his part, told Modi that this was only the second time that he had visited Toji, the last being during his student days.
At Kinkakuji, Modi shook hands with tourists and pilgrims, pulled the ears of a child and posed for photographs with groups of people.
Lauding Japan’s deep historical ties with India, Abe tweeted, “Looking forward to seeing PM Modi again in Tokyo tomorrow.”