Staff Reporter

Japanese envoy impressed by India's economic progress

  • `India to be the largest recipient of Japanese aid'
  • `People-to-people contact important'

    KOTTAYAM: Emerging Asia will face a `Three countries epoch' with the rise of China and India along with Japan, in the 21st century, Yasukuni Enoki, Japan's ambassador to India said here on Friday.

    Delivering the fifth `Diplomat Lecture' at the School of International Relations and Politics (SIRP) of the Mahatma Gandhi University, Mr. Enoki stressed the need for `cooperative relations among the three countries to ensure stability and prosperity of the continent.'

    Following an uneven evolution of bilateral relations during the past 50 years, India and Japan were now engaged in an effort to `rediscover' each other, Mr. Enoki said. After the `golden' Nehruvian era, both countries found themselves on the opposite sides of the fence during the cold war. Again, the warmth in the early 1990s gave way to a downward movement after the Indian nuclear test.

    The Japanese industry was impressed by India's economic progress. India's role in maintaining a balance of power in Asia is also important. The importance Japan has given to the relations with India can be gauged from the fact that India is expected to become the largest recipient of Japanese official overseas Development Assistance in the next fiscal, he said.

    There was also a perceptible change in the Indian diplomatic circles to be part of the `global executive board' rather than `shouting from the corridors,' Mr. Enoki noted. "Japan has entered into strategic partnership with only three countries, the USA, Australia and India, Mr. Enoki said. However, the key development in bilateral relations will be the conclusion of the free trade agreement, which is expected to be over in 18 to 24 months, he said.

    The agreement would open new avenues for professionals in India as service markets would be opened up. It is also expected to play a major role in India's emergence as a manufacturing hub rather than a `back office to the world,' Mr. Enoki said.

    He stressed the need to improve people-to-people contacts through exchange programmes and by promoting the tourism industry.