TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a three-day trip to India from Wednesday to hold talks with his counterpart Narendra Modi and attend a ceremony for a new high-speed railway using Japanese bullet train technology, the Japanese government said.”This visit will allow (Abe) to take a greater leap into a new Japan-India era and think of ways to strengthen our relations with India,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference on Tuesday.
In the face of China’s growing assertiveness in the East and South China seas as well as the Indian Ocean, how to boost bilateral defense and maritime security cooperation is expected to be high on the agenda during the two leaders’ 10th face-to-face talks since Modi took power in May 2014.
Japan and India have deepened their defense ties, with Tokyo joining trilateral maritime drills also involving the U.S. Navy in the Indian Ocean in July.
Abe and Modi are also expected to exchange views on North Korea, which carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 despite repeated warnings from the international community, according to Japanese government officials.
Pyongyang launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and fired another missile that flew over Japan late last month.
The two leaders last met in July on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Another highlight of Abe’s trip to India will be the groundbreaking ceremony for a high-speed railway project, which is expected to link the western Indian cities of Ahmedabad and Mumbai, employing Japan’s “shinkansen” bullet train technology. Ahmedabad is located in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
India plans to complete construction and start services on the 500-kilometer railway by 2023.
Abe is also seeking the adoption of Japanese technology by India’s other railway systems. New Delhi has pledged to build high-speed railways focused on the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
When Modi came to Japan last November as part of the two countries’ annual summits, he traveled by shinkansen with Abe from Tokyo to Kobe in western Japan and inspected a bullet train plant of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., a maker of shinkansen cars.
The two prime ministers’ meeting followed the entry into force in July of a bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, which enables Tokyo to export nuclear power equipment and technology to New Delhi.
The pact is designed to help meet electricity demand in the fast-growing South Asian economy through nuclear power generation, but concerns remain that technology exported to India, which conducted nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 without joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, could be used for military purposes.