New Delhi: On the eve of his visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said Japan has "paramount importance" in his vision for India's progress and his trip will "write a new chapter" in bilateral ties while taking the Strategic and Global Partnership to the higher level.
Cooperation in the fields of defence, civil nuclear, infrastructure development and rare earth materials will top the agenda of Modi's five-day visit beginning tomorrow, his first bilateral trip outside the subcontinent.
"I am keenly looking forward to my visit to Japan at the invitation of my good friend, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for the annual summit between India and Japan," Modi said in his pre-departure statement.
Noting that this will be his first bilateral visit outside the immediate neighbourhood as Prime Minister, he said it underlines "the high priority" that Japan receives in India's foreign and economic policies.
"It is also a reflection of Japan's paramount importance in my vision for development and prosperity in India and in peace, stability and prosperity in Asia at large," he said.
"I am confident that my visit will write a new chapter in the annals of the relations between Asia?s two oldest democracies and take our Strategic and Global Partnership to the next higher level," Modi said.
He noted that Japan is one of India's closest partners in political, economic, security and cultural realms besides being a key regional and global partner for India.
A highlight of the visit will be Modi's tour tomorrow of Japan's 'smart city' Kyoto, which is an example of cultural tradition and modernity, dovetailing the Prime Minister's own vision of building 100 smart cities in the country.
"We will explore how Japan can associate itself productively with my vision of inclusive development in India, including the transformation of India?s manufacturing, infrastructure sectors, energy and social sectors.
Modi said he would dicusss with Abe the roadmap for global and strategic partnership in the years ahead.
"We will discuss how to boost our defence and security cooperation, including in defence technology, equipment and industry, in line with the evolving domestic policies of the two countries," the Prime Minister said.
"I will try to accelerate progress on the unfinished agenda of projects and initiatives that our two countries have embarked upon," he added.
In a special gesture, Abe will fly to Kyoto to meet Modi when he lands there tomorrow.
The formal talks between Modi and Abe will take place in Tokyo on September one when the two leaders discuss how to take forward the strategic and global partnership.
Some agreements, including in defence and civil nuclear sectors, are expected to be signed. Among the agreements to be signed is one on joint production of rare earth materials.
"I am meeting Prime Minister Abe at a time of enormous global challenges, from persisting economic weaknesses to turmoil and transitions in different parts of the world. I hope to exchange views with Prime Minister Abe on important regional and global developments of shared interest," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said there is there is only goodwill and mutual admiration between the two countries.
Buddhism from India has inspired Japan for over a millennium and people in India similarly draw inspiration from Japan?s vanguard role as the fountainhead of Asia's modernization, resurgence and rejuvenation, he said.
"The people in India are grateful for the seminal contribution made by Japan?s generous ODA over the years to India?s economic, social and infrastructure development," he said.
Expressing deep gratitude to Abe for joining him in
Kyoto, Modi said it demonstrates a special commitment and support for the relationship.
"My visit to Kyoto reflects the ancient foundations of our contemporary relations and will also focus on some of our nation's priorities, including urban renewal and smart heritage cities as well as advanced scientific research," he said.
"During this visit, I propose to celebrate these links of history and the experiences of our peoples and impart new meaning to them," the Prime Minister added.
He said he also looks forward to an audience with Japan's Emperor who had paid "a most memorable visit to our country last year".
Modi will have an opportunity to interact with leaders across the entire political spectrum in Japan, regional leaders, captains of business and industry, friends of India in Japan "as well as Indian brothers and sisters living and working in Japan".
The focus of the visit would be on broadening the ties, seeking Japan's support in infrastructure development in India and looking for new vistas for cooperation in goods and services.
Japan figures prominently among the countries from where help could be taken to build next generation infrastructure in India.
In the field of defence, talks are underway for joint production of US-2 amphibious assault aircraft with the possibility of an agreement being signed during the visit.
The issue of Japan helping India in its endeavour to have bullet trains will also be discussed.
The two countries will also set new trade targets, considering that the current level does not match their close relationship. The two-way trade is around 19 billion dollars.
Kyoto, which is a heritage city with Buddhist culture, provides special symbolism to the visit as the Prime Minister has the vision of "rejuvenating" Indian cities.
Talks are already underway to see how the example of Kyoto can be replicated in Varanasi from where Modi was elected to the Lok Sabha.