NEW DELHI -- Rajasthan, India's largest state, is inviting investment from Japanese companies in areas such as automaking, ceramics, and electronic systems design and manufacturing.
The state's Neemrana region already houses a Japanese zone, where more than 45 companies have invested 42 billion rupees ($670 million). These companies include Daikin Industries, Nissin Kogyo and Hitachi Chemical.
The 1,167-acre Japanese zone in Neemrana, which is a result of a memorandum of understanding between Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation and Japan External Trade Organization, known as Jetro, is the first and only one of its kind in India.
To expand this economic partnership, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is visiting Japan from April 6 to 10.
"We are going to meet business groups, including Daikin, Panasonic [and] Noritake," Raje said. "We are also going to discuss smart cities" for Rajasthan, she added. Raje will visit Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagoya during her Japan visit.
"Our two prime ministers have pledged to create a good economic and investment climate with each other," she said. "Keeping that in background, I thought it would be a good time for Rajasthan to go to Japan and talk with some of our existing partners, make new partners and also to see what kind of business opportunities are there for us to collaborate with."
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Japan last year, his counterpart Shinzo Abe pledged to double his country's investment and financing in India to $33.5 billion in the next five years.
Rajasthan shares a special relationship with Japan, which has played a key role in the state's industrial development, Raje said.
The state is also hosting the Resurgent Rajasthan Partnership Summit in its capital city Jaipur on November 19-20, which aims to attract investment from all over the world, but especially from Japan.
"In 2006, we started working with Jetro. I'm really pleased this relationship has blossomed," Raje said, adding a second Japanese zone near Neemrana is in the pipeline.
Automaker Honda Motor also has a separate zone in Rajasthan, contributing to 12,000 direct and indirect jobs in the area. The Japanese zone in Neemrana has resulted in direct employment alone to over 9,000 people in the state, according to local officials.
"It is a delight to see that companies have shown satisfaction at the support given by the state government. Now we would like to create a larger, more permanent partnership," Raje said.
The chief minister said "a virtual Japanese city has been built up in Neemrana," with 200 Japanese families already living in the region.
Naoyoshi Noguchi, Jetro's chief director general in New Delhi, said Neemrana is a good example for other Indian states on how they can attract Japanese investment. "Rajasthan has tried to improve the business environment. A very good communication channel exists between Japanese investors and the state government," he added.