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Delhi, Japan prefecture extend ties

Sowmiya Ashok
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Continue cooperation in cultural, environmental, educational and economic affairs

“Each time I have visited Delhi, I feel the city has become cleaner and the air quality better,” says Hiroshi Ogawa, Governor of Japan’s Fukuoka Prefecture. While he has visited India thrice before, this is his first trip in the capacity of Governor of Fukuoka which is situated in the northern shore of the Island of Kyushu.

Mr. Ogawa and his delegation are in the city till Saturday to renew a friendly Memorandum of Understanding between Fukuoka and the Delhi Government which was initially signed in 2007. The MoU was signed by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Mr. Ogawa on Thursday at the Ambassador of Japan’s residence. “Ours was the first MoU of its kind signed between State-level governments,” he says, elaborating that people to people exchanges and local government exchanges are the foundation of cooperation between two nations. “There were many areas on which the initial MoU focused such as culture, environment, education and economic exchanges. The new MoU will further widen the scope of these basic features.”

In the last five years, Indian environmentalists have been invited for a training programme in Fukuoka with focus on controlling pollution and keeping a check on environmental degradation. “Japan also went through the process of industrialisation and we have the knowhow and human resources to maintain a clean environment,” says Mr. Ogawa, hailing from a place that is known for its green spaces.

The new MoU adopts a four-pronged strategy focusing on economic exchanges, environment, attracting more Indian students to Fukuoka and cultural exchanges. “The new MoU will lay more emphasis on economic exchanges. Ten companies are already present in India and more companies are showing interest,” explains Mr. Ogawa by way of elaborating each of the four focus points. A “pool of experts” has also been set up in Fukuoka to guide companies interested in setting up business in India. “Another area of interest on both sides is the environment. In our meeting with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday morning we discussed ways to deal with industrial waste and municipal waste,” he says, adding that talks are also on to improve the city’s drinking water and to better manage waste.

One of the most significant exchanges will be in the field of education with Mr. Ogawa’s delegation comprising a sizeable number of educationists and representatives from universities. “Currently, of the 9,200 foreign students studying in Fukuoka, only 13 are from India. Given the Indian population, this is a very small number so the MoU will also focus on the significance of studying in Fukuoka,” he adds. Lastly, the MoU will focus on cultural exchanges with the delegation in talks with establishments such as the National Museum which will also see an exchange of ideas. Reflecting on the friendly relationship between Delhi and Fukuoka, Mr. Ogawa expressed happiness over the MoU being renewed for another five years. “The new MoU only provides us a framework based on which discussions can take place. This visit is to engage in the exchange of ideas with the Delhi Government out of which specific issues can be identified,” he says.


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