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

Modi promised single-window clearances and speedy, non-discriminatory decision-making.

By: Press Trust of India Written by Shubhajit Roy | Tokyo | Updated: September 2, 2014 8:29 am
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)

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… kisi desh mein encroachment karna, kahin samundar mein ghus jaana, kabhi kisi desh ke andar ja kar kabza karna, in cheezon ki pravriti chal rahi hai (encroaching on some country, entering the seas somewhere, capturing the territory of a country, we see such trends).”

Stating that “this expansionism cannot be beneficial for mankind in the 21st century”, he said, “Development is essential and I believe that in the 21st century, if Asia is to lead the world, India and Japan should together raise the prestige of the path of development.”

Elaborating on the expansionism versus development idea, Modi said, “The world is divided into two streams — one of vistarvaad (expansionism) and the other of vikasvaad (development). Vikasvaaad is the way ahead… We have to decide whether we want the world to be caught in the clutches of expansionism or should take the path of development.”

Meanwhile, Abe commended India’s efforts in the field of non-proliferation, including the affirmation that goods and technologies transferred from Japan would not be used for WMD (weapons of mass destruction) delivery systems. Modi appreciated the Japanese government’s decision to remove six of India’s space and defence-related entities from Japan’s foreign end users list.

Referring to the Modi government’s proposal to introduce bullet trains, Abe lauded Modi’s vision for development of world class infrastructure in India, including high speed railway system, and expressed hope that India could introduce the Shinkansen system for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route.

“Abe expressed his readiness to provide financial, technical and operational support to introduce Shinkansen system, for which Prime Minister Modi expressed his appreciation. The two Prime Ministers look forward to the completion of the joint feasibility study on high speed railway system on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route,” said the joint statement.

According to the statement, the two PMs welcomed “substantial agreement” on a commercial contract for manufacturing and supply of rare earth chlorides from India to Japan and affirmed their strong resolution for the finalisation of commercial contract as well as the commencement of commercial production at the earliest.

Modi met five top Cabinet ministers of the Abe administration, including Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Deputy PM and Finance Minister Taro Aso. He is scheduled to meet Japanese Emperor Akihito on Tuesday and visit the Sacred Heart University, apart from meeting other political leaders.

Before the talks, Modi was welcomed with a traditional tea ceremony. He also visited the Taimei elementary school, where he interacted with the students.

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