Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his engagements in Japan with a visit to Kyoto, the old capital city and an important centre of Buddhism, which was highlighted by the signing of an agreement between the cities of Kyoto and Varanasi, the two cities which the external affairs ministry says will be partners in progress and heritage.
Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed India-Japan relations at a private dinner at the Imperial Guest House in Kyoto.
The two sat down at a traditional dining table for over one and half hours for an exceptionally warm and friendly conversation over a traditional Japanese meal this evening. Their discussion was marked by a great deal of mutual respect and admiration and convergence of views, an official release said.
Under the MoU between Varanasi and Kyoto, signed earlier in the evening, the two cities will work together to foster cooperation to address contemporary challenges on the strength of their shared heritage.
Kyoto, a hub of ancient Buddhist traditions, has been able to effectively blend its culture and heritage with cutting edge technology, which Modi considers a model that would be essential in the process of rejuvenating Indian cities.
Tomorrow, in addition to visiting the ancient Toji temple, the PM is scheduled to meet leaders in the city to learn about effective governance and management of a historic city. Modi will also be visiting the Centre for Stem Cell Research in Kyoto in the morning as part of his desire to seek advanced solutions through stem cell research for health challenges he had seen in India.
The discussions covered economic issues, and the opportunities that both countries had to seize the opportunities presented by their respective strong political mandates to inject new momentum and energy in their economies.
They spoke with great optimism about a strong and robust future for India-Japan economic partnership.
Prime Minister Modi observed that the relationship was far below potential and expressed hope that the two sides would strive to achieve in five years the unrealised potential of five decades.
Prime Minister Abe expressed confidence that under Prime Minister Modi India's economic transformation would gather strong momentum. An economically resurgent India would, he said, be of great strategic importance to the region and the world, and an inspiration for democratic forces around the world.
Modi said a strong India-Japan partnership was important not just for the economic benefits to the two countries, but even more as a force of good for the region and the world.
The two leaders also had an extensive and candid exchange of views on the developments in the region and the world and saw in their remarkable convergence of views a great opportunity to work together for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and the world.
Prime Minister Modi was deeply touched by Prime Minister Abe's gesture of hosting him in Kyoto. They looked forward to continuing their conversation in Tokyo.