Japan’s Prime minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday (July 15) said that India and Japan share fundamental values and have a long history of exchanges for mutual benefit.

His comments came at the inauguration of the International Cooperation and Convention Centre – Rudraksh in Varanasi by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a recorded message, Suga said, “Japan and India share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and rule of law and strategic interest” and “both countries have maintained cordial relations throughout the long history of exchanges.”

The International Convention Centre in Modi’s constituency has been constructed with Japanese assistance. Designed in the shape of ‘Shiva Ling’, the auditorium of the convention centre has 1200 seats. It has 109 ‘Rudraksh’ decorated across its facade.

The Japan PM said, “I am very pleased to see that the Convention Centre was built in such a special city as a symbol of friendship between the two countries through Japan’s grant aid.”

At the event, PM Modi lauded the role of Japan in the building of the Centre and highlighted the role by both present Japan PM and his predecessor Shinzo Abe.

Calling Japan a “param mitra” or “best friend”, Modi said, “PM Suga as Japan’s Chief Cabinet secretary was engaged in the Convention Centre project – Rudraksh in Varanasi”, adding how former PM “Shinzo Abe had directed his officials to work” on the project when the idea was first proposed.

PM Modi said India and Japan have a “natural partnership”, pointing to how Tokyo has been engaged in the bullet train project, dedicated freight corridor and other projects. Japan’s envoy to India, Satoshi Suzuki, was also present at the inauguration ceremony in Varanasi.