Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: Apart from improving their coordination on security issues, India and Japan will also consolidate their economic ties during the visit of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama this week.

Meeting against the backdrop of Japanese investment in India having exceeded its investment in China for the first time in 2008-09, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Hatoyama will seek to give a push to the multi-billion dollarDelhi-Mumbai freight corridor with the aim to complete it by 2016-17. The summit level meeting will aim to tie up the loose ends so that the assistance agreement is finalised by early next year. The project will provide speedy transportation to goods from the industrial heartlands of north India to ports on the western flank.

The Japanese FDI in India of 809 billion yen as compared to 679 billion yen in China during 2008-09. A further impetus is expected to be provided with the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. An agreement on the first tranche of project development fund would pave the way for s feasibility study. Once issues such as infrastructure building and electricity supply are settled, the “early bird” Japanese companies besides some from India will set their investment plans in motion.

“Without India, Japan cannot grow in future. Therefore infrastructure building projects in India are very important for Japan. The investments in Tata Teleservices, Mitsubishi Chemical plant, Ranbaxy and the setting up of automobile manufacturing units are successful stories that will have a good impact on the minds of potential Japanese investors” said the sources.

Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo has acquired a 26 per cent equity stake in Tata Teleservices and Daiichi Sankyo bought 34.8 per cent of Ranbaxy Labs’ equity, while Mitsubishi is financing a petrochemical plant at Haldia in West Bengal. Several Japanese automobile companies led by Suzuki and Honda are operating in the country.

On security cooperation, the sources pointed out the similarities between the India-Japan declaration on security cooperation and the one inked during Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visit to India last month. “This symbolises where Japan is trying to place India in forming a partnership. The idea was there and Defence Minister A. K. Antony’s during his visit to Japan in November signalled India’s willingness to enhance security cooperation. The approach will be different from the earlier security cooperation because this cooperation will not be against a third party,” the sources pointed out.

Mr. Antony’s visit was preceded by that of National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan. Not only were similar sentiments expressed but Mr. Hatoyama broke protocol and escorted the NSA right up to his car, said Indian official sources.

Japan has also welcomed Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s announcement of a visa-on-arrival scheme for nationals from five countries including Japan and interprets it as India’s desire for closer bilateral ties.

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