Updated: October 28, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the partnership between India and Japan was fundamentally transformed and strengthened as a “special strategic and global partnership” as he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held informal talks at a resort near Mount Fuji before visiting a factory of an industrial robot manufacturer on the first day of their two-day summit.
Modi, who arrived in Japan on Saturday evening to attend the 13th India-Japan annual summit, later rode an express train to travel to Tokyo with Abe as the leaders spent eight hours together. Abe and Modi will hold a more formal summit in Tokyo on Monday, during which strengthening bilateral security and economic cooperation is expected to be high on the agenda.
The two prime ministers are reaffirming their ties amid growing worries about trade and regional stability. Relations with China are a major issue shared by Modi and Abe, as their cooperation may balance China’s growing regional influence and military assertiveness.
On Sunday, Modi was accorded a warm welcome that was characterised by special gestures. “There are no negatives but only opportunities in this relationship which are waiting to be seized,” he told Kyodo News service.
The Japanese foreign ministry said the leaders had lunch at a hotel in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, and exchanged a wide range of views on pursuing “a free and open” Indo-Pacific region. Abe told Modi about his recent trip to China, and both sides agreed on the need to cooperate closely on getting North Korea to drop nuclear weapons development, the ministry said in a statement.
Modi presented Abe two handcrafted stone bowls made from rose quartz and yellow quartz stone sourced from Rajasthan. Handwoven carpets from Mirzapur and a Jodhpuri wooden chest from Rajasthan with traditional work were also presented, an official said.
The PM chose Japan among the first nations to visit after taking power four years ago. He has been urging countries in the Indo-Pacific region to unite against protectionism and cross-border tensions.
In another sign of closer relations, India and Japan are also set to hold their first joint military exercises involving ground forces, starting next month.
Modi was received by Abe on his arrival at the Hotel Mount Fuji in the scenic Yamanashi prefecture. “Delighted to meet PM @AbeShinzo in the picturesque prefecture of Yamanashi,” he tweeted.
The two leaders were “holding talks through the day on deepening India-Japan ties,” the Prime Minister Modi’s office said. They took a stroll in the garden following which Abe hosted a luncheon for Modi at the scenic resort by Mount Fuji.
Later in the evening, Abe hosted Modi at his personal villa near Lake Kawaguchi for a private dinner. It is the first time that Abe has invited a foreign political leader to his holiday home in the village of Narusawa in the prefecture.
“I am truly honoured by this gesture. PM Abe also taught me the Japanese way of eating food using chopsticks!” Modi tweeted.
In September last year, Modi hosted Abe in his home state of Gujarat.
Ahead of his departure from New Delhi, Modi described India and Japan as a “winning combination” and said the island nation was New Delhi’s most trusted partner in its economic and technological modernisation.
Modi said it was his 12th meeting with Abe since he first visited Japan as PM in September 2014.
Prime Minister Modi has said projects such as Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail and Dedicated Freight Corridors reflect the “strength of our economic engagement”.
The bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai will run a total length of 508km, of which 21km will be covered in a tunnel under sea. The cost of the total train project is Rs 1.10 trillion, and Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crores for it at an interest of 0.1%, which has to be repaid over 50 years.
Abe said India was driving the region and the world’s prosperity as a global power. The day when Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains start running between Mumbai and Ahmedabad through cooperation will mark a shining symbol of India-Japan friendship in the future, he added.
“Japan is India’s partner in railway modernisation, including Mumbai Ahmedabad High Speed Railway,” Abe said.
Modi will address members of the Indian community in Tokyo on Monday and will attend a series of events and address a business forum.
Source : Hindustan Times