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India-Japan `Freedom Corridor' set to counter China's OBOR

16 May 2017

India and Japan are set to unveil an Asia-Africa connectivity project, as a counter to China's massive 'One Belt One Road' (OBOR) initiative that proposes to simulate the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project elsewhere, including Europe and Africa as well.

The Indo-Japanese initiative, called the 'Freedom Corridor', stretching from Asia-Pacific to Africa, aims at stabilising the region amid Chinese designs that have a destabilising effect on countries of the region.

The Indo-Japanese project, proposed during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at their annual summit at Tokyo last November, is expected to see a soft launch later this month, say reports.

Under the Asia-Africa connectivity initiative, India and Japan will support massive infrastructure projects and capacity building programmes in East Africa. Japan is expected to join India for developing the strategically-located Trincomalee port in eastern Sri Lanka. Besides, Japan will join India in the development and expansion of Iran's Chabahar port and the adjoining special economic zone, according to reports.

The two countries are also likely to join hands to develop Dawei port along the Thai-Myanmar border.

The India-Japan infrastructure development projects aims at developing quality infrastructure and the central theme of Japan's collaboration is Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (PQI), a theme developed by Japanese Prime Minister Shoinzo Abe.

The two countries are already collaborating in infrastructure development in northeast India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The plans are expected to get a further fillip during the Africa Development Bank meeting in Ahmedabad on 24 May, which will discuss joint projects on capacity building and infrastructure

India and Japan will be holding separate sessions with stakeholders from Africa on the sidelines of the Africa Development Bank meeting. Japan's state minister of finance will lead the country's delegation at the meet.

An India-Japan partnership to develop the `Mekong-India Economic Corridor (MIEC)' connecting the Kenya-Tanzania-Mozambique (KTM) growth zone through Jawaharlal Nehru and Kochi ports, will open up new vistas of Africa-Asia connectivity and help unlock Africa's true economic potential, say experts.

Countering China's expansionary tactics is important for India as the OBOR continental and maritime routes are of strategic concern for India both in terms of national security and also due to economic reasons.

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