Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left for home on Monday after a three-day official visit during which it was agreed that Japan would help in development of roads and agriculture in India’s North-eastern states for which feasibility studies are to be undertaken.
In another significant move, India and Japan will increase the level of cooperation in energy sector in South Asia which will include promoting energy related investment in the thermal power plant building project in Trincomalee, eastern part of Sri Lanka.
Both these moves are not likely to go down well with China, which has major stakes in Sri Lanka in infrastructure projects and has always been wary of India’s action in its North-eastern area while laying claim over Arunachal Pradesh.
When asked about proposed Japanese projects in fields like road improvement, agriculture, forestry, and water supply and sewerage in the North Eastern states, newly-appointed Secretary (East) in External Affairs Ministry Anil Wadhwa said Japan has expressed interest in these areas. “They (Japan) need to carry out feasibility studies now,” Mr. Wadhwa said.
Chinese government’s territorial claim on Arunachal Pradesh is a major bone of contention between India and China and the issue has not been resolved despite mechanisms of border talks between the two countries.
During Mr. Abe’s visit, the two countries also agreed to explore the possibilities for further cooperation in power sector by enabling cost effective power generation and supply benefiting both India and countries in the region, particularly Sri Lanka, where China already has a approx USD 1.3 billion coal power project on the north-western shore.
There are a host of other investments in the south of the country that are estimated to exceed USD 4 billion, including a USD 1.2 billion harbour in Hambantota.
Meanwhile, China on Monday downplayed Mr. Abe’s visit to India as a bilateral issue, even as the state-media termed the trip as a failure for not succeeding in pinning down Beijing. “The visit you mentioned is an issue between India and Japan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a media briefing while responding to a question on Mr. Abe’s just-concluded visit to India.
The visit evoked considerable media attention in China in view of the China-Japan diplomatic stand off over the disputed islands in East China Sea.
On the emerging defence cooperation between India and Japan, Mr. Qin said, “We hope that development of defence cooperation between both countries will be conducive to peace stability and security of the whole region”.