New Delhi: Japan Sunday said its ties with India were warm and friendly and unencumbered by any "pending issues to resolve", unlike with China, and New Delhi has now replaced Beijing as the largest recipient of Tokyo`s Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Sakutaro Tanino, press secretary to visiting Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, made clear that Japan`s relations with China and with India were "totally different" and should not be viewed together.
Tanino said India-Japan ties are marked by "mutual warm sentiments for each other" and there are "no big pending issues to resolve, unlike with China ... and with no territorial disputes or problems".
Japan and China are locked in a territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea.
Japan had increased its ODA to China following the 1992 visit by the Emperor and Empress to Beijing. Aid has, however, declined following their conflict over the islands, which are believed to be rich in hydrocarbons and other minerals.
Tanino also said that the visit of the imperial couple to India had been thought of four years ago, but the decision was "postponed". "Some idea (for the visit) was entertained four years ago, but was postponed," he said.
"India is now the biggest recipient of Japanese ODA... Earlier, China was No.1, now India is No.1," said the official, adding that Delhi Metro rail was a symbol of the development aid.
The assistance in the form of grants-in-aid and soft loans was for development projects in India, including the Mumbai-Delhi Freight Corridor and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. The ODA would also benefit Japanese businesses, he added.
"The relationship with China is strained and difficult due to territorial problem," he said, adding that Japan had its "doors open" for dialogue to resolve the issue.
"The relationship with China and with India are two totally different issues... should not be seen to be linked," said Tanino.
The imperial visit "should not be interpreted as a measure to counter our relationship with China", he clarified.