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China on mind, Japan PM Shinzo Abe pitches for stronger ties with India

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe calls for greater cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region where China is increasingly getting assertive. While rapid militarisation of the South China Sea is a concern for Japan, the deployment of Chinese naval units in the Indian Ocean is worry for New Delhi.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2017 20:30 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
‪Narendra Modi‬,‪Shinzō Abe‬,‪Prime Minister of Japan‬
This handout photograph released by the Press Information Bureau shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at the Dandi Kutir museum in Gandhinagar on Thursday. (AFP)

India and Japan on Thursday signed 15 agreements to broad base the ties and strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, where China is increasingly get assertive.

With Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his side, visiting Japanese premiere Shinzo Abe called for a greater role for Japan and India to keep “democracy and rule of law” intact in the region. (LIVE updates)

“Our ties now lead the global system based on the rules of Indian and Pacific oceans and has developed into a special strategic and global partnership,” Abe said at the groundbreaking ceremony in Ahmedabad for India’s first bullet train project.

Beijing’s naval expansion has both Japan and India worried. While rapid militarisation of the South China Sea is a concern for Tokyo, deployment of Chinese naval units in the Indian Ocean is worry for New Delhi.

The Japanese leader, who was accorded a rousing welcome on his arrival in Ahmedabad on Wednesday with Modi receiving him at the airport, pitched for India as the “factory of the world”, a direct challenge to China, which is the global manufacturing hub.

“Japan in committed to Make in India. If Japan’s high-level technique mergers with India’s best human resources, India will become the factory of the world,” Abe said, referring to the Modi’s government’s ambitious plan to turn India into a global manufacturing powerhouse.

Later, the two sides inked 15 pacts to boost cooperation in various key sectors, including civil aviation, trade and science and technology.

“Asia’s two large democracies -- India and Japan -- have the ability to become the representatives of traditions nurtured in the continent like diversity, tolerance, refusing changes brought in by force and resolving crisis through peaceful means,” the Japanese leader said.

It were India and Japan who were keeping basic values such as independence, democracy, human rights and rule of law intact in the region.

It was important that together they promoted defence values in Indian and Pacific oceans and encourage mutual development.

“All the countries in the Indian and Pacific oceans region wish for an independent, open and continuous growth,” Abe said, in a remark being seen as aimed at China, which has a running maritime dispute with several countries of the region.

“They want that the regional sovereignty and local employment be respected. They want development based on the interest of their citizens. To realise this, India and Japan will make their ties stronger.”

First Published: Sep 14, 2017 16:01 IST