Modi’s Japan visit: Great Expectations

modi and abeIndia has “great expectations” from the forthcoming visit to Japan by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is hoping for substantive outcomes.

In a rare gesture signifying special relationship with India, Prime Minister Abe will be personally flying down to Kyoto, an exemplar smart city that blends cultural heritage with modern amenities, to receive him on August 30. During this trip, Modi will have substantial and wide-ranging discussion with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other political, business and educational leaders in Japan.

“We expect, as an outcome, India and Japan to elevate our strategic and global partnership to new level. In short, if I were to summarise for all of you, we have great expectation of Modi’s first visit to Japan,” said Syed Akbaruddin spokesperson for India’s ministry of external affairs at a media briefing on August 28.

“Overall this is a visit of great expectations”, added Akbaruddin.

The visit, which begins on August 30, will be Modi’s first standalone bilateral visit outside the Indian subcontinent.

The visit to Japan is a priority for India as it possesses the finances as well as the next generation technologies for the prime minister’s vision of infrastructural development.

normal_toji_temple_IMG_5585The heritage city of Kyoto has been chosen as the first stop during the visit as it is a “confluence of Indian and Japanese civilizational heritage through Buddhism which provides a special symbolism to Modi’s visit to Japan,” said Akbaruddin.

Kyoto was also selected as the first port of visit because of Modi’s focus on smart city development of India, of which Kyoto is an excellent example.  

Modi has expressed his desire to rejuvenate Indian cities in a manner similar to Kyoto whereby cities manage to “preserve it cultural heritage while modernising itself,” –important lesson for Indian cities, especially the prime minister’s constituency of Varanasi.

Given Japan technological prowess, New Delhi has sought its help to enhance infrastructural development in India. India and Japan are already cooperating to build the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project, a 1,483 kilometre dedicated freight corridor. India has also sought Japanese investment for the 100 smart cities the government plans to build.

Shizo Abe has agreed to come down to Kyoto to receive the prime minister, informed Akbaruddin. On August 31st the two leaders will engage in a public event at the historic Toji temple.

While in Kyoto, Modi will also visit an education institute engaged in cutting edge technology in stem cell research.

“These cover three distinct area of interest for India in terms of our linkages with Japan: civilizational commonalities, environmental friendly technology, as well as cutting edge research.”

Modi will have detailed discussion with Abe on all aspects of bilateral relations, inclusion military ties. They are expected to sign a slew of agreements which will deepen trade and strategic partnership between the two countries, added Akbaruddin.

While not disclosing the specifics, Akbaruddin highlighted the complexities involved in the ongoing negotiations for the much talked about civil nuclear deal between India and Japan, adding that the result of the deal must have “satisfactory outcomes for India and friends in Japan”

Negotiation for the nuclear deal started in 2010, but the talks lost momentum after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with both sides expressing the need to ensure further safety. Much has been expected after talks restarted in 2013.

Tokyo DowntownThe trip will also focus on enhancing trade ties between the two countries. While the countries have a robust and growing economic relationship, this does not reflect in the figure.

Japan is the fourth biggest foreign investor in India. It contributes about 8% to the total FDI inflows. It has invested $16.2 billion between 2000 and 2014. There are currently 1072 Japanese companies in India.

Modi has invited the top rung of India’s industry leaders to this trip in a bid to deepen commercial ties.

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