10/25/2010, 00.00
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Singh in Tokyo to increase trade and boost military cooperation

India needs foreign investments to grow, whilst Japan needs closer trading relations with other nations to reduce its reliance on China. Both nations want to contain China’s growing military power.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – India and Japan want to increase trade and develop closer strategic and military ties to counter Chinese military expansion. A number of agreements are expected to be announced at the end of a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart, Naoto Kan, today in Tokyo.

Singh is on an official visit to Japan until tomorrow accompanied by a large delegation that includes top government officials and Indian business leaders. For him, an India-Japan strategic and global partnership is “a factor of peace, prosperity and stability in Asia and the world.”

Trade between Japan and China has grown rapidly in recent years; however, recent territorial disputes in the East China Sea have pushed Tokyo to seek closer ties with other nations.

Indian and Japanese officials are studying ways to open up India’s markets to Japanese companies, which would benefit from lower taxes, cheaper labour and the possibility of selling their products in India. In turn, the latter would receive foreign investments to finance its growth and infrastructural development.

Last year, trade between Asia’s second and third-largest economies stood at US$ 12.5 billion, just 4 per cent of Japan's trade with China. Japanese investments in India topped US$ 6.6 billion in 2009.

Mining and refining of rare earth metals, crucial for Japan’s high tech industry, is area in which the two countries can work together. For Tokyo, this is crucial because of Beijing’s decision to stop selling Japan such metals in the wake of recent incidents between the two countries.

India also wants to develop nuclear power for civilian use and is willing to ease access into its markets for Japanese products, including cars. It also wants Japan to open up its own markets to Indian-made generic drugs, steel and jewellery so as to boost trade.

On the nuclear issue, Tokyo wants guarantees that any technology transferred to India will be used only in the civilian field.

The two countries are also looking at closer military cooperation and enhanced international security. Both want to contain China’s growing naval power, especially in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi is especially concerned about China’s growing ties with Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

In Tokyo, Singh is expected to meet Emperor Akihito and address the Japanese Diet. Subsequently, he will travel to Malaysia and then Vietnam for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where he will meet Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, and other leaders.

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