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August 21, 2000
Japanese premier arrives in Bangalore
George Iype in Bangalore
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori arrived in Bangalore on Monday night on a four-day visit to India that is expected to thaw the soured bilateral relationship and mark the beginning of renewed India-Japan ties in security, economics, trade and information technology.
Mori, who assumed office in early April and survived the crucial elections to the Lower House of the Diet, is the first Japanese premier to visit India since Toshiki Kaifu some 10 years ago.
The ten-day South Asian tour that Mori has embarked on has already taken the Japanese premier to Pakistan. In the remaining eight days he will tour India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Mori is the first visiting head of state to begin his trip from a city other than New Delhi. The Japanese premier landed in Bangalore directly from Islamabad to a warm reception from Chief Minister S M Krishna, Governor V S Ramadevi and top government officials.
Mori is leading a 114-member delegation that includes 14 senior officials, 41 special invitees, mostly consisting business people, and 59 journalists.
On Tuesday, the premier will tour the offices of Infosys Technologies and Wipro Corporation in Bangalore's Electronic City. Thereafter, he will address a joint meeting of Indian and Japanese industrialists. Chief Minister Krishna will make a presentation during the meeting, showcasing Karnataka as the best investment destination for Japanese companies.
Mori's visit is expected to revive Indo-Japanese ties that took a turn for the worse when India carried out its nuclear tests in May 1998.
During the visit, India is expected to convince the Japanese leadership of the country's security concerns, while Mori is expected to take up with the Indian government the need to continue peace talks with Pakistan on the vexed Kashmir issue and the need to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Japanase embassy officials said Mori's visit was a recognition of the fact that India is an economic growth engine in Asia. The Japanese foreign ministry recently brought out a special document on the significance of Mori's visit. It said: "Japan wants to recognise that India is now at the core of Asian growth drive along with Japan, China, and ASEAN."
The document said India with its democracy, vibrant market economy, high rate of growth and food self-sufficiency was strategically positioned for Japan, lying astride the oil lifeline to the Far Eastern country's economy.
The document also quoted a special opinion poll that showed that despite the economic sanctions imposed on India by Tokyo, Japan continued to be the most favourite country of Indians with a popularity rating of 33 per cent. The United States, India's leading foreign investor, had a rating of 29 per cent while the United Kingdom had just 7 per cent.
According to Japanese investment representative Hisako Motoyama stationed in Bangalore, India with its great democratic traditions and amazing progress in information technology is an ideal investment destination for Japanese firms.
"There is a great chance that bilateral trade relations and investment ties between India and Japan will be tremendously strengthened by the Japanese prime minister's visit," Motoyama told rediff.com
But he added that the progress of the renewed ties "very much depends on how the Indian and Japanese leaderships narrow their differences on nuclear and security issues".
Towards this end, Mori is expected to urge India to sign the CTBT when he meets Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President K R Narayanan, in New Delhi.
The Indian government hopes Mori will announce a partial lifting of Japan's economic sanctions against India, thereby paving the way for renewing the suspended Official Development Assistance from Tokyo.
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