|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Japan PM addresses Parliament, talks of 'broader Asia'
August 22, 2007 11:40 IST
Last Updated: August 22, 2007 14:46 IST
Unveiling his concept of "broader Asia", Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday pitched in for closer cooperation between his country and India in defence, security and economic fields to create an "arc of freedom and prosperity" in the region.
Addressing the MPs in Parliament, he favoured early conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to push economic relations and raise the volume of bilateral trade to $20 billion in the next three years.
Outlining the various fields in which the two countries can cooperate closely, he promised to help India in the field of energy by providing technology, but there was no mention of nuclear power.
Abe, the third Japanese prime minister to address the Parliament, also vowed to assist India in infrastructure development, particularly the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata Dedicated Freight Corridors and Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
"A broader Asia, that broke away geographical boundaries, is now beginning to take a distinct form," he told the packed Central Hall of Parliament while emphasising that the two countries have "the ability and the responsibility to ensure that it broadens yet further."
In the 20-minute address in presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Somanth Chatterjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images], Abe said the changes now beginning to take place between India and Japan [Images] have "no precedent."
The 53-year-old Japanese prime minister, who is on a three-day visit since Tuesday, said his country was promoting various concepts so that a region called "the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity" could be created along the outer rim of the Eurasian continent.
"The Strategic Global Partnership of Japan and India is pivotal for such pursuits to be successful," Abe said in the speech entitled 'Confluence of the Two Seas' amid regular cheers and thumping of desks by the MPs in appreciation.
"By Japan and India coming together in this way, this 'broader Asia' will evolve into an immense network spanning the entirety of the Pacific Ocean, incorporating the US and Australia," he said.
Underlining that the "open and transparent" network is important to allow people, goods, capital and knowledge to flow freely in the region, he said, "It is incumbent upon us two democracies, Japan and India, to carry out the pursuit of freedom and prosperity in the region."
Abe pointed out that the two countries, being maritime states, have vital interests in the security of sea lanes, which are shipping routes and most critical for the world economy.
"From now on let us together bear this weighty responsibility that has been entrusted to us, by joining forces with like-minded countries," Abe said adding, defence officials and diplomats of India and Japan should consider what the two countries can do jointly.
Paying tribute to the Indian democracy and its march to achieve high economic growth surmounting challenges and difficulties like poverty, he said, "The world has its eyes focused on you."
Observing that the bilateral relations are blessed with the "largest potential" for development, Abe said a strong India is in the best interest of Japan and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India.
Noting that he was accompanied by about 200 executives from major Japanese companies, he said the amount of trade between the two countries will be increasing dramatically in the immediate future and in the next three years, the volume can be expected to reach $20 billion.
Favouring early conclusion of CEPA, the Japanese prime minister asked his country's negotiators to work in this direction which will set an example for the world.
"I likewise urge the Indian side to give their support to enable the early conclusion of this high quality agreement," he said.
Referring to the ambitious plans to connect Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata with freight corridor, he noted that Dr Singh has demonstrated "great enthusiasm" in executing these Japan-aided projects.
Final reports of the feasibility studies will be drawn up in two months, Abe said while describing it as a project of "tremendous significance" for which Japan is actively considering means for financial assistance.
He said Japan will also closely cooperate in the establishment of a dedicated fund for the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor for which the Dedicated Freight Corridor between the two metro cities will serve as the backbone.
Abe, the youngest prime minister of Japan, spoke about the urgent need to fight climate change and cut global emission of greenhouse gases by 50 per cent by 2050.
He sought India's cooperation for realising his vision of 'Cool Earth 2050' while stressing the need for walking down the "difficult but unavoidable" road where a balance can be struck between economic growth and fight against climate change.
Talking about the post-Kyoto framework, he said it would have to move beyond the current protocol and the framework must be flexible and diverse, taking into consideration the circumstances of each country.
"The structure must achieve compatibility between environmental protection and economic growth by utilising advances in technologies to the greatest extent possible," the Japanese prime minister said while expressing readiness to offer energy-efficiency related technology to India.
To enhance people-to-people contacts, he said Japan would welcome 500 Indian youth per year, of which about 100 will be allocated for those studying Japanese or teaching Japanese.
"This is precisely an investment towards future generations," he said.
In his address, Chatterjee said both countries fully recognised the scope and need of working together not only for their mutual benefit, but also for peace and prosperity in Asia and the world.
Abe's visit has further accelerated the process of "rejuvenating and expanding our mutual relations," he said.
Emphasising that the 21st century will be "Asian century," he said India and Japan would be the key performers in actualising that ideal.
Describing Abe as a "valued and trusted friend" of India, Chatterjee said he was confident that the Japanese leader's visit would open new vistas of bilateral cooperation which willl help in further consolidating "our historical ties."
Ansari, also the Rajya Sabha chairman, said as India and Japan embark on a new strategic and global partnership, this can help usher in Jawaharlal Nehru's vision of a resurgent Asia.