SOURCE: THE HINDU
North Korea will have to roll back its missile and nuclear programmes, visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Gandhinagar at the end of his bilateral discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing the media, Mr. Abe said that India-Japan ties will have an impact at the global level and both sides will deal with bilateral, regional and global challenges together, even as Mr. Modi welcomed greater Japanese investments into India.
“Japan and India will take firm steps against the challenges that have emanated from North Korea. We will force North Korea to roll back its recent aggressive moves. This is a message that I send out along with Prime Minister Modi,” said Mr Abe elaborating the Japanese concerns regarding the recent test of a hydrogen bomb by Pyongyang which has also developed inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of targeting the US mainland.
The two leaders addressed the media after a busy morning schedule when they jointly inaugurated High Speed Train Project that will connect Ahmedabad with Mumbai. Elaborating the ‘new era in India-Japan ties,’ Mr Abe said that both countries will jointly develop greater connectivity inside India and also contribute to greater regional connectivity all the way till Africa.
“Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd will work on Make in India project in India to support the high speed rail project that we jointly inaugurated this morning. As part of bilateral agreements Japanese language will be taught in 100 schools and 1000 Japanese language teachers will soon be trained,” said Mr Abe revealing the support structure that will power the High Speed Train Project which is also known as the bullet train.
In a warm speech, Prime Minister Modi welcomed greater Japanese participation in Indian business and said that the number of Japanese citizens living in India will increase in the coming year.
“Japanese people living in India will be able to import Japanese food from home. I welcome more Japanese restaurants in India. Such ventures will be highly profitable in the future bilateral scenario,” said Mr Modi.
In a significant move, Japan also made public the strategically important Northeastern region of India. A Joint Statement issued after the media event said, “The two Prime Ministers welcomed the Japan-India cooperation on development of India’s Northeastern Region (NER) as a concerete symbol of developing synergies between India’s Act East policy and Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.”
Both the points about North Korea and the reference to Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy –developed to deal with the Chinese influence – is significant in view of the now resolved Doklam crisis that had erupted between India and China. Visiting India last week, a key advisor of Prime Minister Abe had revealed Japan’s concerns about ‘expansionist’ China and the North Korean threat.
The two leaders also highlighted that maritime cooperation between the Japanese Self Defence Force and the Indian Navy had expanded to include ‘anti-submarine aspects’ and acknowledged the need for greater need of maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Interestingly, both sides also agreed to support small islands in the Pacific region as part of their common strategy.
The Joint Statement emphasised expansion of joint exercises in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), peacekeeping operations (PKO), and counter-terrorism which will also include joint field exercise between the Japanese and Indian land forces in 2018.
The Joint Statement further stated, “Both sides noted recent progress in bilateral cooperation on defence equipment and technology, including the commencement of the technical discussion for the future research collaboration in the area of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotics.”
The Joint Statement described the state of the art US-2 amphibian aircraft as a symbol of ‘high degree of trust between the two countries.” Both the leaders also welcomed the opening of the first lithium-ion battery factory in India by a joint collaboration of three Japanese majors – Suzuki, Toshiba and Denso.