New Delhi: In Tokyo, on the first day of his two-day visit to Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said he believes in "drawing lines on stone, not butter" to highlight his and that of 1.3 billion Indians' steely resolve to pursue the path of growth. He made the comment while addressing the enthused members of the Indian community in Japan and hailed India and Japan as "natural partners" bound by the ties of Buddhism.
Complimenting the Indian community for their enthusiasm, Mr Modi referred to the contributions made by India, including the distribution of medicine to the world during the tough times of the Covid pandemic as well as the need for greater technology and clean energy. He made mentions of Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore and their glowing references to Japan made several decades ago. PM Modi also penned an "op-ed" article in the Japanese media on the vibrant bilateral ties between India and Japan.
The external affairs minister, S. Jaishankar, and national security advisor Ajit Doval were present while Mr Modi addressed the Indian community in Japan.
Earlier in the day, with a view to strengthening the economic linkages between India and Japan and drawing more Japanese investment to India, the PM held a series of individual meetings with select Japanese business leaders and a roundtable with 34 prominent Japanese business leaders. During the interaction with the Japanese business leaders, Mr Modi "invited greater participation by Japanese companies in India and proposed a ‘Japan Week’ to celebrate Japan’s contribution to India’s development journey."
One of the bilateral business meetings PM held in Tokyo on Monday was with Masayoshi Son, board director and founder of SoftBank Corporation. Mr Modi "appreciated Softbank’s role in India’s startup sector and discussed Softbank’s future participation in India in key areas such as technology, energy and finance..." At the meeting, Mr Modi talked about various reforms that are being undertaken to enable the ease of doing business in India and "shared with Softbank where it could enhance its investments in India."
Another bilateral business meeting was with Osamu Suzuki, senior advisor, Suzuki Motor Corporation. The MEA said, "During the meeting, the Prime Minister recalled Mr. Suzuki’s association and contribution in India and appreciated the transformational role of Suzuki Motors in the automotive industry of India. They (Mr Modi and Mr Suzuki) appreciated that Suzuki Motor Gujarat Pvt. Ltd. and Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. were among the applicants approved under the Production Linked Incentives (PLI) scheme in automobile and auto component sector."
It added, "They discussed further investment opportunities in India, including the setting up of production facilities for electric vehicles and batteries, as well as recycling centres, for realising the goal of sustainable growth. They also discussed strategies for building the local innovation system in India, including skill development through Japan-India Institutes of Manufacturing (JIM) and Japanese Endowed Courses (JEC)."
The PM held the third business meeting with Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., the parent company of Uniqlo. The MEA said, "During the meeting, they discussed the rapidly growing textile and apparel market of India and investment opportunities under the PLI scheme for textile projects in India. They also discussed various reforms being undertaken to enable ease of doing business for foreign investors in India, including in the areas of industrial development, infrastructure, taxation and labour. The Prime Minister invited Uniqlo’s enhanced participation in India’s journey to becoming a manufacturing hub for textiles, particularly the use of technology in textile manufacturing. The Prime Minister also invited Uniqlo to take part in the PM-Mitra scheme aimed at further strengthening the textile sector."
The fourth bilateral meeting was between Mr Modi and Nobuhiro Endo, Chairman of NEC Corporation. The MEA said, "Prime Minister appreciated NEC’s role in India’s telecommunication sector, especially in undertaking Chennai-Andaman & Nicobar Islands (CANI) and Kochi-Lakshadweep Islands (KLI) OFC projects… They discussed various reforms being undertaken to enable the ease of doing business in India, including in industrial development, taxation and labour. They also discussed opportunities in India for new and emerging technologies."
After these bilateral meetings, PM Modi held a roundtable with several Japanese business leaders. The MEA said, "Top executives and CEOs of 34 Japanese companies participated in the event. The majority of these companies have investments and operations in India. The companies represented diverse sectors, including automobiles, electronics, semiconductors, steel, technology, trading and banking & finance. Key business bodies and organisations from India and Japan such as Keidanren, Japan External Trade Organization, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Japan-India Business Consultative Committee and Invest India also participated in the event."
New Delhi added, "... both countries had set an ambitious target of investment of Japanese Yen 5 trillion over the next 5 years. The Prime Minister highlighted recent developments in economic ties, such as the India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership and Clean Energy Partnership, among others. He talked about initiatives such as the National Infrastructure Pipeline, the PLI scheme, and semiconductor policy and highlighted the robust startup ecosystem of India. The Prime Minister noted that despite the slowdown in global FDI, India has attracted a record FDI of USD 84 billion in the previous financial year. He termed this a vote of confidence of India’s economic potential.
On Tuesday, the PM will participate in a meeting of the four-nation Quad along with US President Joe Biden and his Japanese and Australian counterparts Fumio Kishida and Anthony Albanese respectively. The Quad meeting is expected to focus on the need for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, especially in view of China’s assertiveness in the region and among other issues, on the Quad initiatives, including on vaccine development and distribution. The Ukraine conflict is also expected to be discussed in great detail.
The PM will also hold separate bilateral meetings with leaders from the US, Australia and Japan during the day.