India, Japan to focus on infrastructure, rare earths

The summit-level meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan saw both countries deciding to expand their bilateral ties into the area of rare earths, a highly specialised area. They also sowed the seeds of extending their ongoing cooperation in the development of infrastructure in India to the southern parts.

With regard to developing transport and industrial development corridors in the peninsular region of India, a joint statement by the two Prime Ministers welcomed Japan's Concept Paper “Initial Steps towards Regional Economic Integration in East Asia: A Gradual Approach.”

They also welcomed the “Comprehensive Asian Development Plan,” and recognised the importance of hard infrastructure and industrial policy in the Mekong-India Corridor Study, whose implementation could be further discussed.

As Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao later explained, “the issue is linked to the development of similar projects [Delhi-Mumbai dedicated freight and industrial corridors] in south India to link its infrastructure, industrial and technical bases with Southeast Asia. It envisions the possibility of linking south India which has infrastructure, technical base, manufacturing ability and export potential.”

In the area of rare earths, the two Prime Ministers acknowledged the importance of rare earths and rare metals for future industries and decided to explore the possibility of bilateral cooperation in development, re-cycling and reuse of rare earths and rare metals and in research and development of their industrial substitutes.

Aware of the pitfalls of agreements being signed and then not being followed up, they directed their authorities to work towards early entry into force of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and its smooth implementation. They expressed optimism that India-Japan CEPA will deepen their economic engagement, in terms of trade in goods and services, investment and cooperation.

Nuclear agreement

Although the India-Japan civil nuclear agreement is slated to be under discussions for a few more rounds, the joint statement encapsulated the cooperation taking place between the two countries in this field. Both sides are actively exchanging information between the nuclear energy industries, including through business missions. They are also active in strengthening international cooperation to addressing the challenges of nuclear terrorism and clandestine proliferation which has seen Japan planning to set up an Integrated Comprehensive Support Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Security and India the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership.

On pending projects, the two Prime Ministers aimed for early completion of both phases of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor in India in a parallel manner with Japan's financial and technical assistance. They also expressed their desire to accelerate progress on the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). Mr. Kan expressed his intention to enhance Japan's involvement to the DMIC through the efforts of related organisations such as JETRO (Japan External Trade Organisation) and AOTS (Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship).

They took note of the potential of the DMIC project to enhance physical connectivity across Asia and wanted to encourage greater investment from Japan into India including in the infrastructure sector over the next decade to realise this vision.

In the area of security and defence cooperation, the two leaders aimed to cooperate to enhance their capacity in responding to security challenges such as maritime security which entails safety and freedom of navigation and counter-piracy, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response through several means.

Afghan issue

On Afghanistan, Mr. Kan spoke on assistance to the Afghan National Police, reintegration of insurgents and development. Dr. Singh emphasised the importance of strengthening and adequate training of the Afghan National Security Forces so that they could defend the sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan. They concurred that the process of reintegration should not deviate from the principles expressed in the Kabul Conference.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 4:39:43 AM |

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