Fast-growing India and China can each pursue their ambitions despite inevitable competition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in remarks published on Tuesday.
Singh echoed remarks of Chinese President Hu Jintao, who on a landmark visit in November, said, "There will be certain fields where we will also be competing, as is inevitable, so there is a policy of competition as well as of cooperation."
Japan has sought warmer ties with India in part to balance tension with China, although both New Delhi and Tokyo have recently tried to reconcile with Beijing.
Singh said he wanted to use his visit, the first by an Indian premier to Tokyo in five years, "to gain a better understanding about Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe's idea of closer cooperation among major democracies in the region."
"India and Japan are the largest and the most developed democracies in Asia. We share a strong commitment to freedom, the rule of law and respect for human rights," he said.
India fought a brief war with China in 1962 and the two countries have yet to delineate a border.
Japan and China have lingering tension linked to the legacy of Japanese aggression in the 1930s and 1940s, although they are major trading partners.