Connectivity in India, including northeast, important for Japan, says official

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar lead the Indian delegation, while the Minister of Defence of Japan Taro Kono and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Toshimitsu Motegi lead the Japanese side during the 2+2 dialogue, in New Delhi, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Japan prioritises connectivity-building projects in all of India, including the northeast, said a Japanese government representative here on Sunday. 

Atsushi Kaifu, Deputy Press Secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Tokyo was ready to face emerging challenges to large projects in India and asserted that the bullet train project was not “stuck”.

“Connectivity inside India, including the northeastern part, is important for us,” said Mr Kaifu, speaking to the media here after the First Japan-India 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting held on Saturday. The response on connectivity projects came following a question on whether Japan would consider building infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh located on the border with China. The official added, “We are carefully studying the status of the region.”

The observations of the official are significant in view of The Hindu’s earlier report that the Japan-India summit 2019 will be held in Guwahati later this month.

Beijing continues to include Arunachal Pradesh in the India-China border dispute and has criticised foreign visitors to the State. It is understood that infrastructure in the northeast India will build a connectivity continuum that will help in better ties between India and the Indo-Pacific region, especially the ASEAN countries including the South China Sea.


During Saturday’s “2+2” summit, Japan appreciated India’s announcement of “Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative” at the recent 14th East Asia Summit to create a “safe, secure, stable, prosperous and sustainable maritime domain.” Both sides also discussed China, North Korea, terror threats from Pakistan and relationship with Sri Lanka, which is located on the energy lane between Japan and the Gulf nations.

The official also addressed concerns regarding the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor or bullet train project and asserted that it was on track. “We do not share the impression that the project is stuck. Joint Feasibility Study has been conducted and Government-to-Government memorandum has been signed and some concrete facilities have been constructed for training of Indian personnel for the project,” said Mr Kaifu. 

Uncertainties about the bullet train project grew in the past one week, especially after members of the newly formed Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra expressed opposition to the project in view of the fact that farmers of Maharashtra will have to give up large tracts of land for the corridor. 

Mr. Kaifu, however, maintained that he was not aware of the opposition of Shiv Sena to the project. “New challenges are very much common in this type of projects,” he said, explaining that officers involved were working very hard for the completion of the high-speed train corridor. The project launched during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s September 2017 visit to Gujarat was to be concluded by 2022 but has been troubled by the opposition of farmers who own the land over which the corridor will be built. 

The official said that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was “briefly” discussed by the Japanese Foreign and Defence Ministers when they called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the “2+2” dialogue. India has refused to join RCEP and some recent reports suggested that Japan too wishes to stay out of the mega trade pact that is backed by China, but the Deputy Press Secretary declined to elaborate on that. He said that Japan had a sense of gratitude towards India and promised to be a good partner of the people of India, including of the people of the northeastern region.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 3:25:14 AM |

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