Japan will explore the possibility of strengthening co-operation between its universities and those in Maharashtra.

“Maharashtra being a populous State having a large student population, Japan will explore the possibility of strengthening co-operation between the universities in Japan and those in Maharashtra,” Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who is on a visit here, said.

Mr. Hatoyama had yesterday told Maharashtra Governor S C Jamir that Japan has similar co-operation in the education sector with China and South Korea.

The Japanese Prime Minister was accompanied by his wife Miyuki Hatoyama and a high-level official delegation. Alema Jamir, wife of the Maharashtra Governor, was also present at the meeting.

Mr. Hatoyama said relations between Mumbai and Japan date back to 1893 when a link was opened between the city and a Japanese city for trade in cotton. “It is not enough to have co-operation in trade and commerce alone; it is equally important to have a mutual exchange in culture and artistic works too,” he said.

Thanking the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Jamir, who is also the chancellor of Maharashtra universities, said relations between India and Japan are built on solid foundations, a Raj Bhavan release said.

Maharashtra has 19 universities and it attaches great importance to quality improvement in higher education, Mr. Jamir said, adding the State welcomes Japanese co-operation in this sector.

The Governor told Mr. Hatoyama that the country attaches very high importance to its relations with Japan and further strengthening them is one of the highest priorities of the Government of India.

“Maharashtra has tremendous potential for Japanese investment, especially in the area of automobiles,” Mr. Jamir said.

The Governor and his wife also hosted dinner in honour of the visiting Prime Minister and his delegation last night.

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