New Delhi, Jan 17:
Japan will contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative to support India in becoming a base of economic growth for the Indo-Pacific region and the world, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said here Saturday.
Delivering the 15th Sapru House Lecture at the Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) here, Kishida said it was important for Japan and India to strengthen their maritime cooperation and both sides should “even more proactively assume” their “responsibilities to protect open and stable seas” under their partnership.
Addressing a gathering of diplomats and experts on the subject “Special Partnership for the Era of the Indo-Pacific”, Kishida proposed strengthening three bridges that link the region in order to ensure peace and prosperity — bridge of value and spirit, of a vibrant economy and open and stable seas.
Under the bridge of vibrant economy, Kishida said the bilateral economic partnership has grown strong and should be improved to “facilitate an even greater contribution to the entire Indo-Pacific region”.
He said the Japan-India Investment Promotion Partnership agreed at the summit meeting between Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September last year “seeks synergies between Abenomics and Modinomics” and Japan would contribute to push forward the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
To boost connectivity between South Asia and Southeast Asia through both land and sea, he said Japan intends to support the construction of an energy network with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region for enhancing regional connectivity.
To boost connectivity between SAARC and the 10-member Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan would boost aid by “supporting development initiatives” in India’s northeast region, he said.
To a question on investing in Arunachal Pradesh, he said they have not decided yet on the issue.
Under the bridge of open and stable seas, Kishida said India and Japan were maritime countries whose “interests depends on the safety of sea lanes”.
As part of boosting maritime cooperation, he said both sides should boost defence equipment cooperation, including the US-2 amphibian aircraft and Japan’s continued participation in the India-US Malabar exercises.
He reiterated Abe’s three principles of the rule of law at sea, including clarifying claims on disputed maritime areas, not using force to drive claims and settling the disputes through peaceful means.
Japan is involved in a dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea. Japan has this week announced its biggest ever defence budget – $42 billion – to counter China’s increasing military influence in the region.
Under the bridge of values and spirit, Kishida said values of democracy, freedom, open economy and the rule of law are indispensable for the Indo-Pacific region to remain stable and prosperous – and to shine as the centre of the world.
On the issue of reform of the UN Security Council, Kishida said both countries will become driving forces of reform of the world body, and for this, the G4 countries of Japan, India, Germany and Brazil will work together to garner support from the international community.
The Japanese foreign minister, who is in India on a three-day visit for the eighth round of the strategic dialogue, also denounced the Paris terror attacks and said both sides should firmly confront terrorism.
Noting that the year marks the 70th year of the atomic bombings on his country, the Japanese minister expressed appreciation of the Indian parliament for conveying its condolences to the victims of the bombings every year in August.
For working towards the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world, he said they would like to explore how both sides can cooperate for boosting disarmament and non-proliferation efforts under their Special Strategic and Global Partnership. IANS