New Delhi: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday at the start of a two-day trip aimed at boosting ties between Asia`s second and third largest economies.
Kishida`s trip comes on the heels of the crushing win of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in national polls last month and a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan in August-September.
Abe, a right-wing nationalist likened to Modi for his zeal for economic reforms, has been keen to shore up ties with New Delhi to counter an increasingly assertive China.
Modi too signalled the high priority he accorded to Japan by making the trip to Tokyo -- his first bilateral visit outside South Asia since taking office last May.
There was no immediate word on the outcome of the talks with Modi which lasted around half an hour. The two men were pictured smiling and shaking hands at the start of their meeting.
An Indian government spokesman said earlier that Kishida`s visit would boost an already growing friendly cooperation between the two nations.
"We welcome this visit which signifies the importance that Japan places on relations with India," Indian foreign ministry Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.
"You are aware of the path-breaking nature of (our) prime minister`s visit to Japan last year, and you are also aware of the outcomes of that visit.
"This visit is intended to take forward those outcomes in terms of reaching their logical conclusion," he said.
Kishida will also chair the eighth strategic dialogue with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on Saturday and discuss ways to double Japanese investment in India.
The Japanese government is encouraging businesses to tap fast-growing emerging markets such as India, as the domestic market shrinks due to a rapidly ageing population and low birth rate.
During Modi`s visit, Abe had offered public and private investment worth $35 billion over five years to pave the way for Japanese firms to increase their presence in the Indian market.
In 2013-14, Japan-India bilateral trade touched $16.31 billion and both sides have stressed the need to ramp up this figure.
China`s growing clout in the region will also likely figure in the talks, Akbaruddin said.
Both nations are wary of China`s ambition to be seen as the regional keystone and are keen to curb its activity in the East and South China Seas and in the Indian Ocean.
The US is also eager for the two countries to step up their cooperation by way of offering a regional balance to China.
"Of course when India and Japan meet there are several other issues they will discuss. These include our common interest in further cooperating in the Indo-Pacific region," Akbaruddin said.