Modi's Japan visit: Will it give a spur to bilateral ties between two countries?

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Modi will begin his five-day visit to Japan on August 30.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made it clear within days of taking charge that foreign policy was among his top priorities, will kick start his landmark five-day visit to Land of Rising Sun on August 30. Though Modi has visited Japan as Chief Minister of Gujarat, but as a PM it will be his first visit. Modi has huge expectations from Japan, a country which he admires for its hard work, innovation and economic success. According to sources, issues like nuclear cooperation, defence and trade will be high up on the agenda when Modi meets his counterpart Shinzo Abe.

Speaking about the much-talked trip to Tokyo, Modi recently said he was looking forward to the trip, to take the 'time-tested' bilateral ties to a new level and increase cooperation in various fields. "We are two vibrant democracies committed to advancing peace and prosperity in the world," said Modi.

Civil nuclear agreement
India has been pushing nuclear energy pact on the lines of the 2008 deal with the United States wherein India was allowed to import US nuclear fuel and technology without abandoning its military nuclear programme. But, Japan wants a guarante by Indian side over not to conduct any nuclear tests. Japan also wants intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities to ensure that the fuel is not diverted into making bombs. Sources say the two sides have been negotiating the nuclear cooperation agreement for the last few years and now they are inching towards a closure.

Modernization of India's infrastructure and military are top of Modi's agenda.

India on its side is making all efforts to resolve the concerns of Japan and the two sides have speeded up negotiations ahead of Modi's visit.

Defence cooperation agreement

The two countries are set to sign their first ever defence cooperation agreement. This move is being regarded as historic as it will be the first time Tokyo signs such a pact outside its traditional alliance partners US, Australia and UK. The agreement will provide a framework for defence exports, defence technology co-operation, joint military exercises among other things.

India is keen to build up its ties with Japan which has leading edge defence equipment and advanced technology, to modernize its military and infrastructure. On the other hand, Japan wants to strengthen its defence ties to counter the rising Chinese military power in the Asia-Pacific.

It is expected that a deal on the export of Japanese amphibious US-2 seaplanes for civilian search and rescue operations will be also be finalised.

Trade

Modi's visit is expected to give major thrust to the trade and economy. Due to India's growing market and resources, Japan is expressing huge interest in it. Both the countries will try to explore options on doubling Japenese FDI flow into India in the next five years. Though the number of Japenese companies keeps rising with every passing year, but the FDI inflow is sinking. From a peak of $2 billion in 2011-12, Japan's FDI into India, according to the Reserve Bank (RBI) slipped to $1.3 billion in 2012-13.

Moreover, during his visit Modi will be seeking to get mega 1.7 trillion USD from Japan over the next five years to support country's infrastructure and economy. However, media report suggest that Japan is in no mood to support such fund with any foreign partner but it can finance some projects identified by the Modi Goverment like smart cities, railways, solar projects etc.

Two-plus-two bilateral framework
India and Japan are expected to formalise a 'two-plus-two' bilateral framework between their defence and foreign Ministers allowing for improved strategic communication. Though the 2+2 framework is already in place since 2010 but it was at vice ministerial level. But, it will now be upgraded to the Ministerial level talks.

Bullet trains
On his first trip to Japan next week, Modi will be discussing his ambitious bullet train project with his counterpart among other issues. Reports say that Japan is expressing interest to fund High Speed Railways in India and the country is facing stiff competition in this sector from China which is ready to sell its technology half of Japenese prices.

Japan and China are at loggerheads to build high-speed train network in India. Japan is already working on the plan and will hard sell Shinkansen network for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai network to the Prime Minister during his Japan visit. It was reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will try to convince Prime Minister Modi to buy trains from Shinkansen.

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