Abe, Modi launch India's first bullet train

It is not just the Rs 88,000 crore soft loan for the bullet train - with an eye on aggressive China, India and Japan have ramped up cooperation and their special strategic partnership. The 508 km high-speed rail will link Mumbai and Gujarat.

A joint statement issued following the discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe said both leaders "welcomed the India-Japan cooperation on development of India's northeastern region as a concrete symbol of developing synergies between India's Act East policy and Japan's Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy".

The loans carry a nominal interest rate of 0.1 percent to be paid over the next 50 years.

Modi recently replaced his railway minister after a series of derailments, including one last month which killed at least 23 passengers in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. The prime ministers of the two countries also laid the foundation stone for an institute that will come up at Vadodara where around 4,000 people will be trained for the bullet train project.

Under the Skills Development category, an MoC in the field of Japanese Language Education in India was signed between MEA and MOFA, Japan, to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of Japanese language education in India.


The agreements include an "open skies" policy to promote more flights between the two countries, an acceleration of Japanese investments in India and a policy of enhancing connectivity in India's remote northeastern states that border China.

"It marks the beginning of a new chapter in ties between India and Japan".

With China pushing its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, the statement said the two prime ministers welcomed the deepening of their connectivity dialogue aimed at achieving concrete progress, and made a decision to further accelerate such an initiative. There was no formal launch of an Asia-Africa growth corridor, but Modi and Abe welcomed efforts to explore development of industrial corridors and networks which, the joint statement said, will benefit various stakeholders in the India-Pacific region including Africa.

As part of an agreement signed on Thursday between the two countries, India Post and Japan Post will start a postal service that will allow the Japanese community in India order their favourite foods from back home. He did make a pointed reference that the North Korea crisis highlighted the need to remember "backward linkages" to its missile and nuclear programme - a pointer to China as much as Pakistan.

Abe's two-day visit to Ahmadabad comes ahead of Modi's 67th birthday on Sunday. Japan is now India's third largest investor. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the city in Gujarat where Modi was once the Chief Minister.


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