Japan PM Kishida to announce new Indo-Pacific plan in India

Narendra Modi, India's prime minister (left) and Fumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, March 20, 2023. Kishida is expected to seek India’s assistance to forge a broader and stronger coalition to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, adding pressure on New Delhi to choose between major world democracies and a key supplier of energy and weapons. - Bloomberg

NEW DELHI, March 20 (AP): Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has invited his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for the Group of Seven major industrial nations summit in May and was later expected to announce a new plan for a free and open Indo-Pacific aimed at countering China's growing influence in the region.

On his two-day trip to India, Kishida said Modi accepted his invitation to participate in the G-7 summit, which will be held in Japan’s western city of Hiroshima.

Kishida held delegation-level talks with Modi to deepen cooperation between Tokyo and New Delhi, while also addressing food security and development financing.

In his media statement, Kishida said he told Modi that at the upcoming G-7 summit he hopes to take up challenges faced by the global community from the viewpoint of upholding the rules-based international order and strengthening partnership with the international community that goes beyond G-7 and includes the Global South.

The two leaders also discussed their priorities for their respective presidencies of the G-7 and G-20, Modi said in a speech.

Kishida said late Sunday that he will present his new action plan for Japan’s free and open Indo-Pacific vision, a Tokyo-led initiative aimed at curbing China’s growing assertiveness in the region, during his India visit. The plan is expected to include Japan’s support for human development in maritime security, a provision of coast guard patrol boats and equipment and other infrastructure cooperation.

India, which is heading this year’s Group of 20 industrial and emerging-market nations, says ties with Japan are key to stability in the region. The two nations, along with the United States and Australia, make up the Indo-Pacific alliance known as the Quad that is countering China’s rising influence in Asia.

India is the only Quad member that has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has refrained from taking sides and abstained from voting against Russia at the United Nations or criticizing President Vladimir Putin.

Japan, meanwhile, has imposed financial sanctions to isolate Russia, including export controls on high-tech products.

In an article for the Indian Express newspaper Monday, Kishida said "the foundation of order in the international community was shaken by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine” and its impact on food access and fertilizer prices were felt by the international community, including in the Indo-Pacific region.

"In order to respond effectively to the various challenges that the international community is currently facing, cooperation between the G-7 and the G-20 has greater significance. Such pressing challenges include food security, climate and energy, fair and transparent development finance,” Kishida wrote.

India and Japan share strong economic ties. Trade between the two was worth $20.57 billion in fiscal year 2021-2022.

The Japanese investments in India touched $32 billion between 2000 and 2019. Japan has also been supporting infrastructure development in India, including a high-speed rail project. - AP

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