India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Japan on Saturday for a five-day official visit as their governments seek to boost security ties and counter an increasingly assertive China.
Modi arrived at Kansai International Airport near Osaka, western Japan, by special plane for a night in the nearby ancient city of Kyoto where he was to have an unofficial dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a foreign ministry official said.
In an “extraordinary gesture of welcome”, Abe travelled to the ancient Japanese capital for the dinner, the Kyodo news agency reported.
The Indian leader will visit historic sites and an academic institution in Kyoto on Sunday before moving to Tokyo for meetings on Monday with Japanese government and business leaders, including a summit with Abe, the official said.
Modi will have an audience with Emperor Akihito on Tuesday.
Abe and Modi are expected to affirm cooperation in ensuring a “peaceful and stable maritime order,” a Japanese official said.
Both nations hope to curb Beijing’s rising activity in the East and South China seas and the Indian Ocean.
China has been pressing its territorial claims over the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands (which Beijing calls the Diaoyus) in the East China Sea. Along with border disputes with China, India has become concerned about Beijing’s growing ties with its neighbours such as Pakistan and expanding presence in the Indian Ocean.
In New Delhi, the Indian premier told Japanese media in an interview that the two nations could “upgrade” their relations in the fields of defence and security.
“I see in the recent changes in Japan’s defence export policies and regulations a possibility to engage in a new era of cooperation in high-end defence technology and equipment,” he said.
In the summit meeting, the two premiers are likely to agree on launching a “two-plus-two” security consultative framework involving their foreign and defence ministers, according to Kyodo. Japan already has such arrangements with the United States, Australia, Russia and France.
Abe and Modi are also expected to discuss a possible Indian purchase of Japanese-made US-2 amphibian planes.
During Modi’s trip, his first bilateral visit outside South Asia since taking office in May, the two countries will seek to conclude talks for a civil nuclear pact that would allow Tokyo to export nuclear-related technology to New Delhi.
The two sides are expected to conclude negotiations for a civil nuclear pact that would allow Tokyo to export nuclear-related technology to New Delhi, but it is not known whether the leaders will strike a deal at the summit, according to Japanese officials.
India has yet to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, an international accord commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, raising concern in Japan about its push for civilian nuclear cooperation with the country.
On the economic front, Abe is expected to pitch Japan’s high-speed bullet train technology.
Abe and Modi were expected to agree to jointly produce rare earths that could be exported to Japan, a move that would further reduce Japan’s reliance on China for supply of such minerals. Rare earths are vital to manufacture high-tech products such as hybrid cars and mobile phones.
They are also likely to agree on a joint project to clean up the river Ganges, which is holy to Hindus and also known as one of the world’s most polluted rivers.
Kyodo and Agence France-Presse