Abe leaves for India for talks with Modi, new railway event
Two leaders expected to reaffirm ties in face of China's growing assertiveness
TOKYO ( Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday departed on a three-day trip to India, where he is expected to discuss with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi how to bolster bilateral defense and maritime security cooperation amid China's growing assertiveness in regional waters.
During his stay in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, Abe is also scheduled to attend a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of a new high-speed railway employing Japanese bullet train technology. Ahmedabad is located in Modi's home state of Gujarat, where he served as chief minister.
"I want us to take a big step so that this 'shinkansen' project, which heralded the start of Japan's own rapid economic growth, will serve as a spark for further growth in India," Abe told reporters before leaving Tokyo's Haneda airport.
Amid China's assertive activities in the East and South China seas as well as the Indian Ocean, Abe and Modi are expected to affirm the importance of promoting collaboration in such fields as defense equipment and trilateral joint drills involving the U.S. Navy, Japanese government officials said.
During the two prime ministers' meeting on Thursday, officials say Abe will likely take up the issue of North Korea, which has continued to act provocatively, recently conducting a sixth nuclear test and continuing to launch ballistic missiles.
The Japanese leader's visit to India comes days after the U.N. Security Council approved a new sanctions resolution to impose the first restrictions on exports of crude oil and petroleum products to Pyongyang.
On the economic front, the two leaders are likely to confirm their collaboration on infrastructure building in India and assistance for Japanese companies to make inroads in the world's second-most populous country, the officials said.
Ahead of the talks, Abe is scheduled to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway Project that will use Japan's "shinkansen" bullet train technology.
India aims to start operations of the 500-kilometer railway between the two western cities by 2023.
Abe seeks the adoption of Japanese technology in other railway systems in the South Asian country as New Delhi also plans to build high-speed railways connecting the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.