India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi delighted his Japanese hosts on Monday, the key day of his state visit, with an apparent swipe at China and an offer to facilitate business from Japan.
Modi, addressing Japanese industrialists, said that expan-sionism would never lead to progress in the 21st century, and referred to maritime tensions, a clear dig at China, which is locked in conflict with Japan over the Senkaku islands.
Japan’s relations with China, never cordial, have steadily worsened under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the island nation is trying to build ties with India to counter its traditional rival.
Modi also promised to set up a special management team for facilitating business with Japan directly under the Prime Minister’s Office, even offering to include two Japanese nominees.
The third day in Modi’s Japan trip, which could see a flurry of dealmaking, got off to a quiet start with a visit to an elementary school next to his Tokyo hotel.
Modi, who has come across as relaxed and cheerful on this trip, mingled with students and teachers at the 136-year-old Taimei Elementary, a minute’s car ride away from the Imperial Hotel where the Indian delegation is staying.
“We are trying to teach Japanese language in our schools, and we need teachers for that. I invite you all to come to India and teach,” Modi said.
The morning was devoted to courtesy calls by senior ministers from the Abe cabinet —Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economy Minister Toshimitus Motegi.
Modi is also playing host to more ministers—Land Infra-structure and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ohta and Defense Minister Itsumori Onodera.
The central event of the day is the official welcome ceremony at the Akasaka Palace, to be followed by a tea ceremony, a meeting with Abe, talks between the two delegations and the signing of agreements.
Abe, who traveled to Kyoto to welcome Modi when he got there on Saturday, then hosts a banquet at the palace for his Indian counterpart.
The Japanese have laid on the hospitality for Modi and his delegation, eyeing lucrative infrastructure deals and a chance to cock a snook at their Chinese rivals.
The Indian side is keen on getting a civilian nuclear deal through which will enable Japanese companies to supply components to nuclear reactors. The Japanese have been pressing for additional guarantees that the Indians will not test again; India has been resisting this on the grounds that it has already agreed to a moratorium on testing.
Other items on the table include negotiations for the US-2 am-phibious rescue and recon-naissance plane, investments in desalination plants, and the Japanese bullet train.