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Japan shares India’s concerns over China’s One Belt One Road project, says envoy

Japanese ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu said he understands why India is involved in the standoff in Doklam.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2017 23:45 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
OBOR,One Belt One Road,Japanese ambassador
Kenji Hiramatsu, ambassador of Japan in India, said Japan supports the statement of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj that India is engaged with China in finding a diplomatic solution to the Doklam standoff.(PTI)

Japan shares India’s concerns about Chinese President Xi Jingping’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project although Tokyo attended a meet on it for bilateral reasons.

In an exclusive interview with HT, Japanese ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu said he understands why India is involved in the standoff in Doklam and backed external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on finding a diplomatic solution to the issue.

Here are the excerpts:

Q. Unlike India, which boycotted the One Road One Belt conference, Japan took part in it. Is this signature project of (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping) a topic of continuing discussion between India and Japan?

We attended the conference because it was on infrastructure, an area Japan is focusing on. Also, we factored in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. But we believe these projects should have viable funding that doesn’t leave behind debt traps, protect environment and respect local regulations.

Q. So, barring concerns of sovereignty issues (with China-Pakistan economic corridor of OBOR that New Delhi objected to), you have similar concerns like India?

That’s right. India and Japan are strategic partners. We continue to discuss the OBOR project between the two countries. Also promoting quality infrastructure is something Japan is focusing on in many parts of the world.

Q. How do you see the Doklam standoff and Indian position about China trying to alter the status of the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction?

First of all, Doklam is a dispute between Bhutan and China... and the two countries are engaged in border talks... We understand that India has a treaty understanding with Bhutan; that’s why Indian troops got involved in the area.

We believe no country should change the status of Doklam by unilateral use of force.

Q. Japan has territorial disputes with China in East China Sea. Do you think incidents like Doklam is a sign of Beijing getting increasingly assertive on the issues of sovereignty?

We support the statement of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj that India is engaged with China in finding a diplomatic solution to the standoff. To answer the question, it is not easy to make such assumptions, and some instances could be seen as they are.

Q. But do you think that China could be trying to change the status of the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction?

I have already told you what I have to say on this issue.

Q. Do you think India-Japan-US tri-lateral Malabar exercises should be expanded to include countries such as Australia?

The tri-lateral Malabar exercise is going on and expanding into newer areas. We welcome participation of a country like Australia. But at this stage, our attempt is to consolidate the trilateral cooperation and then expand to include more members.

Q. India has remained the largest recipient of largest overseas development assistance project of Japan and are you going to have a re-look at it in any manner?

Not really, because the projects are funded on India’s request and their decision on what projects are best for them. But we are looking at expanding the coverage of ODA to include projects in environment and to develop sewerage, an area where we have advanced technology.

We have been in touch with the Indian government and will expand our participation in the clean Ganga and Ganga rejuvenation plan.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 23:45 IST