External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Thursday co-chaired the Ninth India-Japan Strategic Dialogue with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono and discussed a wide-range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
This is Sushma's first visit to Japan in the capacity of the External Affairs Minister and Kano reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral ties during the address.
The two leaders took stock of progress since Prime Minister Abe's 'highly successful' visit to India in September.
"We are both democratic countries who respect openness, rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity," Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the media with Mr Kono following the talks.
"The Special Strategic and Global Partnership we share is extremely important in the context of today's world," she said.
"Both our countries seek a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," Swaraj said.
Strengthening our Special Strategic and Global Partnership with Japan! EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs on a 3-day visit to Japan for the 9th India-Japan Foreign Minister’s Strategic Dialogue in Tokyo. #KonnichiwaNamaste pic.twitter.com/IInVyJVSj7— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) March 28, 2018
Asserting that India was Japan's most important partner Mr Kono said, "Our Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and India's Act East Policy should be further merged."
Talking about their 'natural partnership' Swaraj stated, "there is vast scope to combine "our relative advantages, whether of capital, technology or human resources, and to work for mutual benefit."
"Japan's presence is visible in major infrastructure and capacity-building projects across India. Our flagship initiatives such as Smart City, Digital India, Start Up India and many others welcome Japan's entrepreneurs with new opportunities. We are happy to note that Japanese investments in India, both public and private, are on the rise," she added.
Swaraj said the two sides had very productive discussions on how India and Japan are working closely to build robust ties in High Speed Rail, Information and Communications Technology, Innovation, Space Science, Healthcare and Food Processing and other fields.
"We also exchanged views on some new areas of focus in our engagement, such as skills development, Japanese language training in India and the possibility of Indian professionals working in Japan under the Technical Intern Training Programme," she added.
The minister said the bilateral relations between India and Japan have expanded rapidly in recent years and it is reflected in the number of high-level visits exchanged and the several official dialogue mechanisms that are in place.
"The Special Strategic and Global Partnership between our two countries that was established during Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's landmark visit to Japan in 2014, has been constantly strengthened through our mutual efforts. There is optimism on both sides about the potential of our future ties.
"India and Japan have shared values, with a long history of friendly exchanges. Buddhism unites us. We are both democracies. We value openness, transparency, rule of law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity," she said.
"Our Special Strategic and Global Partnership has acquired a broader significance in the current global context. Our growing convergence on economic and strategic issues is important for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region," Swaraj said.
She said as part of Japan's sustained participation in India's economic modernisation, both sides will exchange notes for Japanese Overseas Development Assistance for four new developmental projects in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Swaraj also said that there should be a 'zero tolerance' on terrorism.
"We shared the view that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is a global scourge that requires global action in the spirit of zero tolerance, including by rooting out terrorist safe havens, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists," she said.
She also emphasised the need for concerted global action to deal with other common challenges such as climate change.
On Friday morning Swaraj has also met Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe in Tokiyo.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed ways to further enhance the bilateral ties between India and Japan. Swaraj also conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Abe.
On the other hand, the Japanese Prime Minister added that the traditional friendship between the two countries was characterised by heart-to-heart bonds and blessed with a huge potential for growth.
The discussions have laid a sound foundation for the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan for the next bilateral Annual Summit later this year, Swaraj said.
"That visit, I am confident, will give renewed thrust to our Special Strategic and Global Partnership," she asserted.
"On sidelines of the strategic dialogue between EAM @SushmaSwaraj and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, documents were signed/exchanged between the two sides," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Earlier, Swaraj met Chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council & former Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
EAM @SushmaSwaraj met Chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council & former Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Fruitful discussion on taking relationship forward across diverse sectors. Mr. Kishida's role in strengthening our ties are invaluable. pic.twitter.com/aUCs9Ov5Un— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) March 29, 2018
"Fruitful discussion on taking relationship forward across diverse sectors. Mr. Kishida's role in strengthening our ties are invaluable," Kumar tweeted.
Swaraj also addressed a gathering of Indian diaspora at the Vivekanand Cultural Centre in Tokyo.
Addressing the gathering, she lauded the contribution of the diaspora for strengthening the bond with Japan and creating a positive image about India in Japan.
According to official figures, Japanese FDI in India during 2016-17 was USD 4.7 billion, an increase of 80 per cent over the last year.
In 2016-17, India-Japan trade reached USD 13.61 billion, showing a decrease of 6.21 per cent over 2015-16, when the total bilateral trade was USD 14.51 billion.
India's export to Japan for 2016-17 was USD 3.86 billion, whereas India's import from the East Asian country for 2016-17 was USD 9.76 billion.
(With inputs from agencies)