Nuclear deal, 'smart cities' top Modi's agenda on Japan visit

30 August 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Japan this morning on his first official foreign visit, which is billed to open new bilateral vistas and take the Strategic and Global Partnership to a higher level.

Nuclear deal, 'smart cities' top Modi's agenda on Japan visitIn a special gesture, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Modi and his entourage flew to Kyoto airport to receive Modi personally.

The Indian PM is visiting Kyoto, the 'smart city' of Japan, to study the possibility of building 100 smart cities in India.

Modi and Abe will have a substantive summit meeting in Tokyo on 1 September during, which the two sides will look to take their Strategic and Global Partnership forward.

Cooperation in the fields of defence, nuclear power, infrastructure development, and rare earth materials is expected to top the agenda of the discussions.

Some definite agreements are expected to be signed, including in the defence and nuclear sectors. Among the agreements to be signed is one on joint production of rare earth materials.

India is to tie up a nuclear energy pact and boost exports to Japan.

The only country to experience the horrors of an atomic bomb attack, Japan has long been wary of India's attempts to become a nuclear weapon power.

India has been pushing for an agreement with Japan on the lines of a 2008 deal with the United States under which India was allowed to import US nuclear fuel and technology without giving up its military nuclear programme.

But Japan wants explicit Indian guarantees not to conduct nuclear tests and more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities to ensure that spent fuel is not diverted to make bombs.

India, which sees its weapons as a deterrent against nuclear-armed neighbours China and Pakistan, has sought to meet Japan's concerns and over the past month the two sides have speeded up negotiations ahead of PM Modi's visit.

"I am keenly looking forward to my visit to Japan at the invitation of my good friend, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for the annual summit between India and Japan," Modi said in his pre-departure statement.

Noting that this will be his first bilateral visit outside the immediate neighbourhood as Prime Minister, he said it underlines "the high priority" that Japan receives in India's foreign and economic policies.

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