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International relations

Japan and India to sign technology partnership agreement

Deal will promote cooperation in artificial intelligence research and startups

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, met in Tokyo in 2016. The two plan to sign a broad technology agreement during Modi's two-day trip to Tokyo starting Sunday.  (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Japan and India will sign an agreement aimed at promoting development of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, Nikkei has learned. The partnership will include joint research, promotion of startups and development of human resources in both countries.

The two countries plan to announce the agreement when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, during Modi's two-day visit to Tokyo, which begins Sunday.

As technological competition between countries intensifies, Japan aims to enhance its position by attracting superior technology and talent from India.

Japanese businesses have strengths in hardware such as cars and electric appliances. The hope is that these strengths will complement India's software expertise, enhancing both countries' profiles and shares in the global market for the internet of things.

India and Japan hope to foster broad cooperation, ranging from business development, to technology, to human resources. Previous bilateral cooperation typically took the form of Japan offering assistance to India in areas such as infrastructure, as it looked to tap into the huge Indian market. The latest agreement, by contrast, aims for greater two-way cooperation. Both countries are eager to develop high-tech industries in their effort to catch up to Europe and U.S.

Research and development in digital technology will be a focus of the partnership. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan's largest state-sponsored research institute, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, are planning joint studies, initially in image recognition. The research may later expand into 5G mobile communications and robotics.

To promote startups, and their expansion in each other's markets, Japan and India in September opened an office in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, the hub of the country's tech industry.

The office will serve as a center for India's government to offer support to Japanese companies looking to expand in India, and to find local partners and talent.

Japan, for its part, will invite Indian businesses with competitive technologies and ideas to Japan, and help them collaborate with large Japanese companies.

The Japan External Trade Organization, together with a number of Japanese companies, held a briefing for students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, in a sign of Japanese companies' desire to recruit Indian talent. Interviews will start in December for students expected to graduate in June of 2019, at the companies' Indian offices and at headquarters in Japan.

Companies around the world are eager to hire graduates from India's universities, which are known for their skills in math and science, and for turning out highly qualified engineers and corporate managers.

With the U.S. tightening requirements on H-1B visas for skilled workers, Japan senses an opportunity to attract more Indian talent.

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