Preparations for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Japan are in full swing, and several senior Indian functionaries and officials have held talks with their Japanese counterparts to clear the way for a summit meeting between the two heads of governments. Singh is expected to visit Tokyo in the third week of November, and may leave for the ASEAN meet in Phnom Penh from there.
The annual meeting of the two Prime Ministers is unique since Japan is the only country other than Russia with which New Delhi has this arrangement. The two countries share a strong bond, and Dr Singh's visit will help strengthen it further.
The forthcoming visit coincides with 60 years of Indo-Japanese friendship.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who met top Japanese officials in Tokyo some months ago, had shown interest in running a high-speed Nazomi (Bullet) train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Apart from this, a proposal to reduce travelling time to transport freight between New Delhi and Mumbai from 14 days to 14 hours may also be discussed.
As part of the sixth meeting of the India-Japan Energy dialogue — during which Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia held talks with Japanese minister for economy, trade and industry Yukio Edana earlier this month — both sides reaffirmed that it was important to hold inter-ministerial Indo-Japan Energy dialogues annually.
Some Japanese companies have expressed their willingness to provide safe technology to Indian nuclear power plants. But Kazuya Shimba, Japan's parliamentary senior vice-minister for foreign affairs, told HT that the Indo-Japanese nuclear energy cooperation agreement was still being negotiated.
Shimba said that the Japanese government was keen on expanding its terms of engagement with India on several fronts. He expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the Indian government, Haryana state government and the local authorities helped defuse the crisis at the Maruti-Suzuki plant in Gurgaon recently.
As a run-up to the summit, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai and defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma held talks with Japanese officials and functionaries on cyber-security and defence on Monday. Some Indian ships had carried out a joint naval exercise with the Japanese Navy in June.
The Japanese foreign office is very concerned about Chinese trying to stake claim on the Sensaku islands, which have been under the control of the Japanese government for a long time. The Japanese want their position known to friendly countries.
A number of Indian chief ministers have also visited Japan this year, and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa is likely to go there later this year.