Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014

PM signal: sitting down with Japan, standing up to China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe eat tea cakes at the Omotesenke tea hut, one of the main schools for the Japanese tea ceremony, in Tokyo on Monday. (Source: Reuters) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe eat tea cakes at the Omotesenke tea hut, one of the main schools for the Japanese tea ceremony, in Tokyo on Monday. (Source: Reuters)
Written by Shubhajit Roy | Tokyo | Posted: September 1, 2014 5:13 pm | Updated: September 2, 2014 8:29 am

In what would have been music to the ears of the Japanese government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the “expansionist” ideas of the 18th century are still visible in the world — some countries “encroach” on others, some “enter the seas”, and some “capture other’s territory”. While he did not name China, the reference to “encroachment” and “entry into the seas” is being interpreted as a reference to China’s spats with Japan over the Senkaku Islands.

While there was no agreement on the civilian nuclear cooperation, the two sides noted the “significant progress” and asked their officials to “further accelerate” the negotiations with a view to conclude the agreement at an early date.

After the bilateral talks with Modi at the Akasaka Palace, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his country’s intention to invest 3.5 trillion yen (Rs 2.1 lakh crore) in India over the next five years.

This largescale funding, which will be both public and private, will be invested on the rejuvenation of Ganga, smart cities, transport systems, skill development and next generation infrastructure among other projects. Abe and Modi also agreed to set a target to double Japan’s FDI and the number of Japanese companies in India within five years as part of the “Japan-India investment promotion partnership”.

Modi promised single-window clearances and speedy, non-discriminatory decision-making. “I have decided to set up a Japan-plus special management team directly under the PMO to facilitate proposals from Japan. I also propose that you nominate two people from Japan who would be part of a team which looks into business proposals, and they can be a permanent part of our decision-making process,” he said.

Modi underlined that the India-Japan ties have been elevated from a “strategic and global partnership” to a “special strategic and global partnership”. Stating that adding “special” is not just a “play of words”, he said it signifies Japan’s increasing role in India’s economic development, increased political dialogue and new thrust to defence ties among other issues.

Five agreements, including on defence cooperation, health, roads, women’s development and clean energy, were signed. On the US-2 amphibian aircraft, they sought “working level consultations” to promote defence equipment and technology cooperation. And on the trilateral dialogue between India, US and Japan, the two leaders decided to explore holding the talks among their foreign ministers — another move which China could be concerned about.

Earlier in the day, addressing a gathering of Japanese and Indian industrialists at a lunch meeting, Modi said, “Today, we see all around what happened in the 18th century. There is expansionism visible… continued…

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