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To counter Chinese influence, India-Japan bat for US role in Indo-Pacific


Tokyo/New Delhi, The India-Japan relationship is based on the 'shared commitment to democratic values, independence and rule of law,' Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Monday after the 13th annual bilateral summit with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. Coming within days after Mr Abe visited China and returned after considerable success in improving ties with Beijing by meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, Tokyo on Monday eloquently pushed its known 'favoured policy' of boosting ties with New Delhi and other global players as a counterweight to China’s growing power in the region. The Vision Statement issued at the end of the bilateral consultations stated categorically that both India and Japan 'shared willingness to expand concrete cooperation with the US and other partners' in Indo-Pacific region. 'The two leaders’ vision for the Indo-Pacific is based on a rules-based order that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, ensures freedom of navigation and overflight as well as unimpeded lawful commerce, and seeks peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law....without resorting to threat or use of force.' The Indo-Pacific initiative is generally seen as a counterweight to China's attempts to establish its hegemony in the Indian Ocean. Modi-Abe meet was the 12th interaction between the two Prime Ministers since 2014 and largely seen as a good dividend yielded due to personal chemistry between them. 'Behind their strengthened commitment is China’s rising political and economic clout. New Delhi has been especially concerned about China’s 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, a project that seeks to build ports and other infrastructure around the Indian Ocean linking Asia with other parts of the world, which some experts see as a way to strategically contain India,' stated a write up in 'The Japan Times.' On Sunday, Mr Abe hosted the Indian Premier at his private villa at Yamanashi. They spent about eight hours together.Both the leaders also agreed to arrange a two-plus-two meeting of defence and foreign ministers and kicked off talks to conclude an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement, according to the statement. An ACSA would allow the military forces of the two nations to mutually provide supplies and services.'The two leaders welcomed the joint exercise between each of the three services and the commencement of negotiations on the ACSA which will enhance the strategic depth of bilateral security and defence cooperation.' Both leaders acknowledged the significant progress in maritime security cooperation, as seen in the high frequency of bilateral naval exercises and deepening level of the Malabar war games, as well as long standing dialogues and training between the Coast Guards, according to the statement. In terms of concrete takeaways, Japan has agreed to further strengthen economic and security ties and also pledged to extend new yen loans for seven projects. The total loan provision of up to 316.458 billion yen (approx Rs 20 lac thousand crore) include funds for a high-speed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad road and also assistance for Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project (Phase 3) and North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project. Both sides endorsed Japan’s 'Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,' which calls for rule-based order, territorial integrity and rights to free flight and sea navigation in the India-Pacific region.'Our mutual visits for annual summit meetings has been a driving force for elevating the Japan-India relationship to higher ground,” Mr Abe said. 'A strong India is good for Japan, and a strong Japan is good for India. … This relationship of Japan and India is blessed with the largest potential for development for any bilateral relationship anywhere in the world,' he averred. In a boost to Modi-initiated International Solar Alliance, Japan announced joining the group. Japan will be the 71st nation to sign and 48th to ratify the ISA Framework. A series of pacts on wide range of issues was also inked. "The visit will further strengthen the India-Japan relationship, be it in trade, technology or people-to-people ties," Prime Minister Modi tweeted.

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