Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe that Japan will be his first major bilateral visit and that both countries should start preparing for substantive outcomes strengthening their economic engagement.
The external affairs ministry (MEA) was apparently peeved at the deferment of Modi’s Japan visit, especially in the context of its signal to Beijing. But it is evident that the postponement was basically because of Modi’s keenness to make bilateral visits result-oriented and he couldn’t possibly have made any substantial policy offers to Japanese investors just three days before the budget session.
In a two-page letter to Abe on June 19, Modi categorically said Japan will be his first major bilateral visit and hinted that both sides should prepare for a substantive economic outcome.
It appears that another reason for deferring the trip was not enough deliverables on the table. It is understood that Abe has asked his team to give a new set of dates for Modi’s visit in August and also prepare a comprehensive agenda.
India and Japan are still trying to close the civil nuclear agreement which, in turn, will trigger a similar deal with the French due to common technology. Even the sale and transfer of technology for ShinMaywa sea air rescue aircraft has been hanging fire as Tokyo wants a commitment from New Delhi that these aircraft won’t be used for military purposes. Both the issues have been stuck since former PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan in May 2013.
Modi is also preparing for a business-like engagement for the BRICS summit in Brazil on July 15-16, with the perfunctory bilateral meeting on the sidelines with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Unlike in the past, Modi won’t have any bilateral meetings during the stopover from Delhi to Brazil and back.