File pic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
NEW DELHI: India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Japan seeking to capitalise on a close relationship with his like-minded counterpart Shinzo Abe to boost trade between Asia’s second and third largest economies.
The two leaders, both right-wing nationalists elected on a pledge to revive their countries’ economies, also share an interest in shoring up regional alliances to counter an increasingly assertive China.
It will be Modi’s first bilateral visit outside South Asia since taking office, signalling the importance of a nation he said offered “immense scope for cooperation”.
“Japan’s friendship with India is time tested. We are two vibrant democracies committed to advancing peace and democracy in the world,” Modi tweeted on Thursday in both English and Japanese.
Modi and Abe, who will meet privately in the historic city of Kyoto today before holding official talks in Tokyo, enjoy an unusually warm relationship.
Modi visited Japan twice when he was chief minister of India’s prosperous Gujarat state, and met Abe on both occasions. The Indian leader was only the third person that Abe followed on Twitter, after his wife and a Japanese politician.
“The common ground of their policies is expected to benefit both the Japanese and Indian economies,” Takehiko Yamamoto, an international politics expert at Waseda University said.
Both are also leaders of countries embroiled in territorial disputes with China, the dominant regional power.
“The visit by Modi would offer an opportunity for the leaders to confirm a long-term cooperation in their effort to softly contain China,” said Yamamoto.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said Modi’s focus would be to boost Indian exports and seek Japanese support in infrastructural developments. — AFP