Sushma Swaraj discusses high-speed rail, terrorism, healthcare with Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Tokyo

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday held "very productive" talks with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono during which the two leaders discussed a wide-range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Swaraj, who is in Tokyo on a three-day visit — her first to Japan in the capacity of the external affairs minister — and Kano reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral ties during the 9th India-Japan Strategic Dialogue.

The two leaders took stock of progress since Prime Minister Abe's "highly successful" visit to India in September.

"Foreign Minister Kono and I had very productive talks, covering a wide-range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest," Swaraj said.

Sushma Swaraj

File image of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

Asserting that India regards Japan as a "natural partner", she said there is vast scope to combine "our relative advantages, whether of capital, technology or human resources, and to work for mutual benefit."

"Japan's presence is visible in major infrastructure and capacity-building projects across India. Our flagship initiatives such as Smart City, Digital India, Start Up India and many others welcome Japan's entrepreneurs with new opportunities. We are happy to note that Japanese investments in India, both public and private, are on the rise," she added.

Swaraj said the two sides had very productive discussions on how India and Japan are working closely to build robust ties in high speed rail, information and communications technology, innovation, space science, healthcare and food processing and other fields.

"We also exchanged views on some new areas of focus in our engagement, such as skills development, Japanese language training in India and the possibility of Indian professionals working in Japan under the Technical Intern Training Programme," she added.

The minister said the bilateral relations between India and Japan have expanded rapidly in recent years and it is reflected in the number of high-level visits exchanged and the several official dialogue mechanisms that are in place.

"The Special Strategic and Global Partnership between our two countries that was established during Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's landmark visit to Japan in 2014, has been constantly strengthened through our mutual efforts. There is optimism on both sides about the potential of our future ties.

"India and Japan have shared values, with a long history of friendly exchanges. Buddhism unites us. We are both democracies. We value openness, transparency, rule of law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity," she said.

"Our Special Strategic and Global Partnership has acquired a broader significance in the current global context. Our growing convergence on economic and strategic issues is important for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region," Swaraj said.

She said as part of Japan's sustained participation in India's economic modernisation, both sides will exchange notes for Japanese Overseas Development Assistance for four new developmental projects in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Swaraj also said that there should be a "zero tolerance" on terrorism.

"We shared the view that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is a global scourge that requires global action in the spirit of zero tolerance, including by rooting out terrorist safe havens, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists," she said.

She also emphasised the need for concerted global action to deal with other common challenges such as climate change.

Swaraj also called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday. According to MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, Abe said traditional friendship are characterised by heart-to-heart bonds and blessed with a huge potential for growth.

The discussions have laid a sound foundation for the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan for the next bilateral annual summit later this year, Swaraj said.

"That visit, I am confident, will give renewed thrust to our Special Strategic and Global Partnership," she asserted.

"On sidelines of the strategic dialogue between EAM @SushmaSwaraj and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, documents were signed/exchanged between the two sides," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Earlier, Swaraj met Chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council and former Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida.

"Fruitful discussion on taking relationship forward across diverse sectors. Mr. Kishida's role in strengthening our ties are invaluable," Kumar tweeted.

Swaraj also addressed a gathering of Indian diaspora at the Vivekanand Cultural Centre in Tokyo.

Addressing the gathering, she lauded the contribution of the diaspora for strengthening the bond with Japan and creating a positive image about India in Japan.

According to official figures, Japanese FDI in India during 2016-17 was $4.7 billion, an increase of 80 percent over the last year.

In 2016-17, India-Japan trade reached $13.61 billion, showing a decrease of 6.21 percent over 2015-16, when the total bilateral trade was $14.51 billion.

India's export to Japan for 2016-17 was $3.86 billion, whereas India's import from the East Asian country for 2016-17 was $9.76 billion.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 30, 2018 09:36:32 IST

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