Civil n-agreement with Japan a historic step, says Modi

Tokyo, Nov 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the India-Japan civil nuclear agreement, signed here on Friday after the annual bilateral summit, a “historic step” and added that Japan is a natural partner of India.

“Today’s signing of the Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy marks a historic step in our engagement to build a clean energy partnership,” Modi said in a joint address to the media along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo after the delegation-level talks between the two sides.

“Our cooperation in this field will help us combat the challenge of climate change. I also acknowledge the special significance that such an agreement has for Japan,” he said.

“I thank Prime Minister Abe, the Japanese government and the parliament for their support to this agreement.”

The agreement provides for the development of nuclear power projects in India and thus strengthening of energy security of the country.

It will open the door for collaboration between Indian and Japanese industries in India’s civil nuclear programme.

Stating that India and its economy were pursuing many transformations, Modi said: “Our aim is to become a major centre for manufacturing, investments and for the 21st century knowledge industries. And, in this journey, we see Japan as a natural partner. We believe there is vast scope to combine our relative advantages, whether of capital, technology or human resources, to work for mutual benefit.”

Modi said that both sides remained focused on making strong progress on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project.

Japan committed itself to this project during Abe’s visit to New Delhi for the annual bilateral summit last year.

The Prime Minister said that Friday’s discussions in regard to training and skills development broke new ground.

“We are also shaping new partnerships in areas such as space science, marine and earth science, textiles, sports, agriculture and postal banking,” he said.

Apart from the civil nuclear agreement, nine other agreements across multiple sectors were signed after the bilateral summit.

Modi said that the India-Japan strategic partnership “was not only for the good and security of our own societies”, it also brought peace, stability and balance to the region.

“It is alive and responsive to emerging opportunities and challenges in Asia-Pacific,” he said.

“As countries with an inclusive outlook, we have agreed to cooperate closely to promote connectivity, infrastructure and capacity-building in the regions that occupy the inter-linked waters of the Indo-Pacific.”

Modi said that the Malabar naval exercise conducted by India, Japan and the US in June this year “has underscored the convergence in our strategic interests in the broad expanse of the waters of the Indo-Pacific”.

“As democracies, we support openness, transparency and the rule of law. We are also united in our resolve to combat the menace of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism,” he stated.

As for people-to-people exchanges, the Prime Minister referred to the decision taken by India in March this year to extend the “visa on arrival” facility to all Japanese nationals.

“We have also gone a step further in extending a long-term 10-year visa facility to eligible Japanese businesspersons,” he said.

Stating that India and Japan consulted and cooperated closely in regional and international fora, Modi said: “We will continue to work together for reforms of the United Nations and strive together for our rightful place in the UN Security Council.”

He also thanked Abe for Japan’s support to India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Modi arrived here on Thursday on his second visit to Japan in two years.

Earlier on Friday, he called on Japanese Emperor Akihito.

He also attended a meeting of the India-Japan Business Leaders’ Forum and addressed a business luncheon of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Keidanren or the Japanese Business Federation.