India, Japan hit it off, take aim at China


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his visiting Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe agreed to further deepen the strategic and global partnership, Indian media reported on Sunday.
Singh said Japan was at the heart of India’s Look East policy.
The meeting saw Abe, the first Japanese PM to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations as chief guest on Sunday, emphasised on the need for the two countries to contribute jointly to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world taking into account changes in the strategic environment, as a joint statement issued after the meeting said.
While China has so far refrained from making any adverse comment about Abe’s decision to accept India’s invitation to grace the Republic Day, Beijing’s likely response to Abe’s presence at the 26 January parade has been a subject of much speculation by international media. The Indian government has already clarified that the Republic Day parade is as much civilian as it is military.
The two countries signed as many as eight agreements, including one for promotion of tourism and several others for Japanese soft loans and ODA to India.
In a media statement after the talks, Singh expressed satisfaction over political engagement and expanding defence and security cooperation between India and Japan. In this context, Singh acknowledged the announcement of Japan’s National Security Strategy and the establishment of the national security council (NSC) of Japan.
The two PMs expressed satisfaction with the launch of regular consultations between the secretary general of national security secretariat of Japan and India’s national security advisor.
While welcoming Japan’s participation in the Malabar exercise and the meeting to discuss co-production of US-2 amphibian aircraft, Singh also noted that the discussion between the two countries for a civil nuclear agreement had gained momentum. Both sides directed their officials to exert further efforts towards an early conclusion of the agreement.
Abe, however, stressed the importance of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date. Singh on his part reiterated India’s commitment to its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.
The two PMs also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in the rare earths sector and shared “the strong resolution” that the commencement of commercial production of rare earths by Indian and Japanese enterprises should take place at the earliest.
Singh also praised the pledge by Abe for the “Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project (Phase 3 (II))” for 148.887 billion yen, the “New and Renewable Energy Development Project (Phase II)” for 30 billion yen and the “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Energy Saving Project (Phase III)” for 30 billion yen.
Singh appreciated Japan’s expertise and technology of high speed railway (Shinkansen) system and noted Japan’s interest in introducing that system in India.
Meanwhile, the celebrations were marred in Manipur where suspected militants triggered four powerful bomb explosions.
However, none was injured in the blasts in different places in and around Imphal. Six major insurgent outfits in Manipur had given a call to boycott the Republic Day celebrations.
Two bombs exploded in the capital complex near the deputy commissioner’s office at around 8.25am at the centrally located Kangla, while two other explosions were reported from Chingmeirong and Chingamakha on the outskirts of the city at around 11 AM.
In Jammu, Governor NN Vohra hoisted the tri-colour at Maulana Azad Stadium, saying security forces should continue to maintain a close vigil without lowering their guard until a peaceful environment emerged in Jammu and Kashmir.
He asked Pakistan to maintain calm along the border and said repeated ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration have yet again disrupted normalcy in the state.
“Needless to say, till a peaceful environment emerges our security forces shall continue to enforce eternal vigil along the frontiers without lowering their guard,” Vohra said.
Vohra hoped Pakistan will “respond positively” to the peace initiatives which have recently been taken by India.
In Srinagar, shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic remained off the roads in most parts of the valley in wake of a strike called by Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani and other separatists in support of resolution of Kashmir issue.
Assam Governor Janaki Ballabh Patnaik appealed to underground militant groups to abjure violence and come to the discussion table to solve the issues for an overall development of the state.
Hoisting the tricolour in Guwahati, he condemned the recent incidents of violence in many districts across Assam and said the culprits will be punished.
The day was celebrated across Odisha with gaiety and enthusiasm amidst tightened security in view of a boycott call by Maoists.
Suspected Naxals put up black flags in some pockets of Chitrakonda and Kalimela areas in Malkangiri district.
Four persons, including a government employee, were abducted in Giridih district of Jharkhand by suspected Maoists ahead of the Republic Day.
The rebels intercepted a car near Nokanya village and abducted the occupants – an employee of a block development office, two members of a panchayat, another person and the driver of the vehicle – yesterday, Giridih Superintendent of Police Kranti Kumar said. They, however, let off the driver later.
Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt asserted that the state government would firmly deal with Naxals and other terror elements operating in the state.
“Steps are being taken to provide better resources and facilities to security forces. Every possible effort is being made to boost their morale and instill confidence among those who are living in the Naxal-hit regions,” he said.
For the first time in Mumbai, the parade was held at Marine Drive, instead of the Shivaji Park ground.
Thousands of people had gathered to witness the colourful event, attended by Bollywood actors including Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Sushmita Sen and Shreyas Talpade.
It was a momentous day for 13 prisoners in Himachal Pradesh when they took part in “prisoners band squad” during the parade in Shimla, marching to the tune of ‘Sare Jahan Sey Accha.’