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Shinzo positive about Japan-India ties

india Updated: Sep 28, 2006 15:14 IST
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Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe feels India and Japan have the potential to create a new phase in Asia's history.

"I am convinced that we have a lot to learn from India," Abe told the "Namaste India" festival organised by the India Centre Foundation in Japan, just a day before he took over as the youngest-ever prime minister of this country.

"India can be a strong partner of Japan in creating a new phase in Asian history and we also need this partnership for our mutual development," Abe said at the event that marked the 10th anniversary of the India Centre Foundation in Japan.

The 52-year-old head of government also recalled his visit to India in 2005 and his "highly satisfying" meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - who is scheduled to visit Tokyo in December.

He also recalled the words of praise for India he had heard from his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi who, as Japan's prime minister, had visited India in 1957 and addressed a huge gathering at the Red Fort in New Delhi.

Abe also inaugurated an Internet portal - Voice of India - created in Japanese and English by the India Centre to push relations between India and Japan.

India Centre plans to publish it in the Chinese and Korean languages too, as part of its vision to promote a close alliance between India and all the countries of Far-East Asia and South-East Asia, officials said.

"Abe cancelled his other important engagements to be here. It shows how much he values our relationship with India," said Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister, and added that his presence also showed his appreciation for the India Centre.

The "Namaste India" festival drew large weekend crowds Sep 23-24. The number of visitors more than tripled from the 50,000 people who attended the event in 2005, officials at the India Centre said.

The main attractions of the event this year were performances by sitar maestro Nishat Khan, Japanese Kathak exponent Masako Sato who learnt the art from Birju Maharaj, and another Japanese Odissi dancer Masako Ono.

A troupe from Mumbai that entertained the young crowd with choreographed dances to the tunes of Hindi film songs was also highly popular; so was the campaign by the Indian government to promote tourism.

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