Modi hopes Japan trip will take ties to new level

Modi hopes Japan trip will take ties to new level

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will begin his first bilateral outside South Asia this Saturday when he flies to Japan on a four-day visit.

The PM's Japan visit has been a source of much discussion since he became the country's leader. The mutual admiration shared between Mr Modi and the Japanese PM Mr Shinzo Abe is well known and even as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr Modi always expressed his deep admiration for Japan. Something that has the potential of upsetting China.

Mr Modi had last night said he was keenly looking forward to the trip to take the "time-tested" bilateral ties to a new level. "On Aug 30, I will begin my visit to Japan. I am keenly looking forward to the visit, which will boost relations between our two nations," he said.

"I was to visit in early July but could not due to the Parliament session. I see the Japan visit as an opportunity to take our ties with Japan to a new level and increase cooperation in various fields," Mr Modi added.

During the visit, the PM is scheduled to meet Emperor Akihito and Mr Abe. The bilateral meeting between the two Prime Ministers is expected to take place on 1 September.

Mr Modi's visit is significant for a variety of reasons. While the visit is likely to see both countries move forward on defence cooperation, the much stalled civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the two sides could also see some forward movement.

Negotiations for a nuclear deal with Japan started in 2010 but following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the movement on the deal has been slow.

Defence is an area that will be closely followed. If, as expected, the deal on purchasing Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft is finalised, it will signal the beginning of defence cooperation between the two countries with India also getting the distinction of becoming the first country to buy defence equipment from Japan.

Under the $1.65 billion deal, India is expected to buy 15 amphibious patrol aircraft.

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