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‘Japan tracking J&K situation very carefully’

Children play with toy guns next to security personnel in Srinagar on August 13, 2019.

Children play with toy guns next to security personnel in Srinagar on August 13, 2019.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

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Atsushi Kaifu, Deputy Press Secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commented on Kashmir, while declaring that Tokyo remains focussed on connectivity projects in India, including in the northeastern region.

Japan is tracking the situation in the Kashmir Valley and hopes for a peaceful solution to the difficulties in the region, a representative of Tokyo said here on Sunday.

Atsushi Kaifu, Deputy Press Secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commented on Kashmir, while declaring that Tokyo remains focussed on connectivity projects in India, including in the northeastern region. “I can say we looked at the situation there very carefully. We are aware of the long-standing differences of views with regard to Kashmir. We hope a peaceful resolution will be found through dialogue,” he said.

The comments came a day after the Foreign and Defence Ministers of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi and Taro Kono discussed a wide range of regional and global issues with their Indian counterparts S. Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh at the First Japan-India 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting.

Mr. Kaifu could not say if the Ministers held a detailed discussion on the situation that emerged in Kashmir after India ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5. India’s action had drawn a sharp response from Pakistan as well as China, which had also opposed the decision to create the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh out of the erstwhile State, saying it affected China’s sovereignty. Beijing also has a similar position on India’s northeastern State of Arunachal Pradesh.

The official highlighted Japan’s interest in the northeastern region during his interaction and said, “Connectivity inside India, including the northeastern part, is important for us.” He was responding to a question whether Japan would consider building infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh. “We are carefully studying the status of the region,” he added.

The observations of the official is significant in view of The Hindu’s earlier report that the Japan-India Summit 2019 will be held in Assam’s 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 northeastern region 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. Mr. Kaifu said that during the 2+2 meeting, both sides discussed China, North Korea, and relationship with Sri Lanka, which is located on the energy lane between Japan and the Gulf nations.

The official addressed concerns over the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor or the bullet train project and asserted that it is on track. “We do not share the impression that the project is stuck. The joint feasibility study has been conducted and some concrete facilities have been constructed for training of Indian personnel for the project,” said Mr. Kaifu.

Uncertainties about the project grew in the past one week, especially after members of the new Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra expressed opposition to the project because farmers will have to give up large tracts of land.

But Mr. Kaifu maintained that he was not aware of the Shiv Sena’s opposition 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 its completion. 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 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 the RCEP. Recent reports suggested that Japan too wished to stay out of the trade pact that is backed by China, but the Deputy Press Secretary declined to elaborate on it. He said Japan has a sense of gratitude to India and promises to be a good partner of the people of India, including of those of the northeastern region.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 2:53:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/japan-tracking-jk-situation-very-carefully/article30132654.ece

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