Abe's visit brings India, Japan closer together

Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:50 AM   |   0 comments

NEW DELHI, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a close friend of India, ended his visit with several agreements including a navy drill to be joined by the United States.

Abe's three-day India trip that concluded Monday was also designed to further strengthen bilateral economic and other ties. For Japan, whose trade with China has been hit by their worsening territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, India's huge market provides an attractive alternative.

Data shows there are currently more than 1,000 Japanese companies who have invested in India, up from 550 in 2008.

The growing military might of China is also a matter of concern to both India and Japan.

During Abe's visit, Japan and India agreed hold a trilateral navy drill along with the United States, Kyodo News reported. The United States, Japan's closest ally, is increasing its presence in the Pacific under its Asia pivot policy and sees India as a strategic partner.

Abe, during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also announced about $2 billion worth of loans to India to help finance the expansion of a subway system in New Delhi, Kyodo said quoting Japanese officials.

Keeping China's growing maritime activities in the East China and South China Seas in mind, Abe and Singh stressed the importance of ensuring the freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and the peaceful settlement of conflicts in line with the principle of international law including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The two leaders also announced a planned working-level meeting in March for exporting Japan's US-2 amphibious planes for search and rescue purposes to India, Kyodo quoted Japanese officials as saying.

On security cooperation, the two sides agreed to launch talks between the two countries' chiefs of the national security councils.

The two sides also agreed to complete by July of next year a joint survey for introducing Japan's bullet train technology for a high-speed train project between Mumbai and Ahmadabad in western India.

The two sides agreed to continue talks for an agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which would allow Japan to export reactors to India to meet the latter's energy demand.

India accorded Abe the honor of being the chief guest Sunday at its spectacular Republic Day parade celebrating the anniversary of India becoming a republic and the 1950 implementation of the Indian Constitution.

Abe's India visit followed that of the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

"India was privileged to receive recently the Emperor and Empress of Japan in their first-ever state visit to India," Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said after receiving Abe. "India attaches great importance to India-Japan relations and appreciates Prime Minister Abe's view that India-Japan relations have the largest potential in any bilateral relations."

"The desire to cram the visit into his packed schedule, suggests the importance Mr. Abe places on relations with India and perhaps also indicates a soft spot he has for the nation," the Wall Street Journal had earlier noted.

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