Japan on Wednesday proposed “joint exploration with India for the development of rare earth minerals.” Tokyo “would like to make progress” in this domain.

Disclosing this, Japan's spokesman Hidenobu Sobashima and other officials told The Hindu that Tokyo also affirmed its commitment to “the steady implementation” of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the related Dedicated Freight Corridor.

These issues figured in the talks that Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma held with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara after they signed the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in Tokyo. Mr. Sharma proposed a two-way trade target of $25 billion by 2014, a doubling of the pre-CEPA level. The economic pact will come into force after the completion of national procedures.

It was not immediately clear whether the sensitive issue of a Japan-India civil nuclear deal was discussed when Mr. Sharma called on Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. However, Mr. Kan told Mr. Sharma that “Japan has the infrastructure and the technology which are needed by India” at its current stage of development.

Mr. Sharma briefed Mr. Kan on the DMIC progress and suggested that Japan join India for a matching contribution towards the proposed revolving fund of $9 billion for this project, an Indian official said later from Tokyo. India was now in the process of mobilising $4.5 billion in this regard. India's Ambassador Alok Prasad and Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar assisted Mr. Sharma during his meetings with the Japanese ministers including his counterpart Banri Kaieda.

Describing the CEPA as New Delhi's most ambitious economic pact so far, an Indian official said the country's sensitive sectors “are fully protected.” Agriculture, fruits, spices, wheat, basmati rice, edible oils, wines and spirits and also certain categories of industrial products in the auto and auto-parts sector were cited.

Significant access to the Japanese market was now possible for Indian textiles, petrochemicals, chemical products, jewellery and cement. Japan would now extend its own “national treatment” in respect of Indian generic medicines.

Greater access to Japan would now be available for Indian contractual suppliers, accountants, researchers, tourist guides, management consultants, computer scientists and engineers.

India's existing policy on foreign investments was the norm adopted in this CEPA, while New Delhi would go by its national laws in honouring its commitment to intellectual property rights in this document.

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