Japanese PM to be chief guest at Republic Day

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will be the chief guest at this year's Republic Day parade, in an indication of the growing importance of Japan-India relations.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief of Japan's New Komeito Party, a partner of the ruling coalition, said it is for the first time that a Japanese prime minister will be chief guest at India's Republic Day parade.

"This speaks of the importance India and Japan are giving to the relationship. It is a symbol of this relationship," said Yamaguchi, who met vice president Hamid Ansari and external affairs minister Salman Khurshid earlier in the day to discuss India-Japan ties.

"Japan and India are working on ways to strengthen their partnership," he added.

Abe's visit later this month comes after the visit of Japan's Emperor and Empress to India in November last year.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko's six-day visit to India, the second time they were visiting India after 50 years, was their first visit to a South Asian country after taking over the crown.

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