Japanese PM wants to visit India in November

Tokyo: Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda proposes to visit India in November to counterbalance China's growing influence in the region, government sources said.

Noda hopes to build a close relationship with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior officials and business leaders, Kyodo reported, quoting official sources.

If the visit comes through, it will be the first tour of India by a Japanese Prime Minister since 2009. Noda, who took over on September 2, will make his diplomatic debut when he attends the annual UN General Assembly in New York, where he is expected to hold talks with President Barack Obama.

During his visit to New Delhi, Kyodo said, "Noda is also expected to discuss China's growing influence with Singh."

"Japan's economic growth is impossible without working closely with India," the source said, adding "it is necessary to strengthen ties with the country also in the context of holding the rise of China in check."

Kyodo said that India and Japan had concluded a Free Trade Agreement which came into force last month and the accord would help Japanese firms build more footing in the country.

The agreement will also eliminate tariffs on 94 per cent of two-way trade flows within ten years.

The two countries are also expected to discuss prospects of signing a nuclear cooperation agreement and issues related to North Korea, Kyodo said.

Earlier this month, Noda had told a meeting in Tokyo that he wants to work closely with India as the two countries will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2012.