TOKYO -- Japan will seek to double direct investment in India over the next five years as the two nations pursue closer economic and security ties, their leaders declared Monday.
In a joint statement issued after his summit here with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set a five-year goal of providing 3.5 trillion yen ($33.2 billion) in public and private lending and investment to the South Asian country. Another target calls for doubling the number of Japanese companies doing business there.
Japan and India have "the relationship holding the most possibilities," Abe told a news conference after their two-hour meeting.
Modi said that there are "no limits" to cooperation between the two countries and that their actions will define how the 21st century turns out for Asia.
With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India stands second only to China in sheer market scale. Modi's new government has turned to Japan as it seeks to modernize Indian infrastructure and attract foreign capital.
Inflows of direct investment from Japan totaled just 210.2 billion yen last year. As of October, 1,072 Japanese companies were operating in India. Tokyo sees ample room to expand trade and investment between the two economies, given their size.
Modi stressed that he will tackle India's tax code and administrative and financial regulations to make the country a better place to do business. Abe pledged lending, including 50 billion yen for the India Infrastructure Finance Co., and support for creating electronics industrial parks. Japan will also offer cooperation on building high-speed rail lines and urban subways.
The two leaders agreed to accelerate negotiations on an atomic energy pact that would open the door to nuclear plant exports from Japan. And they welcomed a deal on jointly developing rare-earth deposits in India for export to Japan.
Modi's summit with Abe marked the Indian prime minister's first bilateral meeting with the leader of a major economy since taking office in May. Their joint statement, officially titled the Tokyo Declaration for India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership, describes the sit-down as "the dawn of a new era" in relations between "Asia's two largest and oldest democracies."
Their efforts to forge stronger ties are partly meant to keep China's growing blue-water presence in check. Abe and Modi confirmed plans to hold talks between their foreign and defense ministers this year. They agreed to stage regular maritime security exercises and to speed up discussions on exporting Japanese-made US-2 amphibious search-and-rescue planes to India.
When it comes to multilateral cooperation, Japan and India are looking to hold three-way foreign affairs chief talks with the U.S. and will explore doing the same with Australia. They will also seek tangible progress next year toward their mutual goal of permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council.
Abe said he is looking to reciprocate Modi's visit next year.