The India-Japan strategic relationship can contribute to peace and prosperity in Asia and the world, said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who arrived here on a three-day official visit expected to see progress towards India’s first bullet train and a civil nuclear deal.
“Indo-Japanese relations will contribute to peace and prosperity in Asia and the world,” Abe, while addressing the Japan-India Innovation Seminar ahead of his annual meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Saturday.
“India and Japan should sow more seeds of innovation and make them bloom.
“Japan values scientific and technical cooperation with India, a culture that has discovered the ‘zero’ and with such a fine tradition in mathematics,” he said.
Citing examples of Indo-Japanese technical collaboration for environment-friendly development, he said the Metro rail network started in Delhi with Japan’s collaboration, and was rapidly expanding to other centres in India.
“If the ‘Shinkansen’ (Japan’s bullet train) starts flying in India, distances will get smaller,” he said.
“Come invest in Japan,” he told the conference participants in English, pointing out that in the last three years of his government, unemployment was the lowest in two decades, while wage hikes last year were the highest in 17 years.
However, with an “aging population” in Japan, if the population decreased, it would be difficult to keep up the growth momentum, he added.
Earlier, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Abe soon after his arrival.
“Carrying forward a positive legacy of friendship and cooperation. EAM @SushmaSwaraj calls on Japense PM @Abe Shinzo,” tweeted external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup.
Abe’s visit comes amid expectations that an agreement would be firmed up on India’s first bullet train to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and headway made in the talks on a civil nuclear deal.
Abe was received at the airport by Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha.
He will hold the annual summit meeting with Modi on Saturday, following which the two leaders will issue press statements. Abe will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee.
Another highlight is a trip with his counterpart to Varanasi, Modi’s parliamentary constituency, on Saturday where he will attend the Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat.
At the last summit meeting held in Tokyo in 2014, the two prime ministers agreed to elevate the bilateral relationship to “special strategic and global partnership”.
Modi and Abe also met last month on the sidelines of the 13th Asean-India Summit at Kuala Lumpur and again during the Paris climate change conference.
Abe, who met Modi over lunch at Kuala Lumpur, had said that India-Japan relationship has the greatest potential of any bilateral relationship in the world.
The proposed bullet train line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad would cost Rs.98,000 crore, according to a joint project feasibility study, co-financed by the Indian Railways and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
India sees Japan as an important player in the nuclear energy sector with major Japanese firms manufacturing components for related equipment.