Reflecting growing close ties between the two countries, India-Japan Friendship Year 2007 was jointly launched on Thursday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at a colourful function.
Dr Singh also declared open a Festival of India in Japan showcasing the vibrancy of India's diverse culture, youthful dynamism of contemporary free and open society and the transformation of the country's economy.
The Festival has been organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations whose President Karan Singh was also present along with the members of the Indian diaspora, who had gathered in large numbers.
Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister said the friendship year has been launched to mark the 50th anniversary of the cultural agreement between the two countries.
Recalling that the Indo-Japan ties dated back to at least a thousand years, Dr Singh noted 'the peoples of India and Japan initiated a vibrant civilisational relationship when Buddhism traveled to Japan'.
The prime minister said India was looking forward to host the Festival of Japan, which will showcase both modern and traditional Japanese culture that is catching the popular imagination in India.
Describing Abe as a 'valued friend of India', Dr Singh lauded the Japanese Prime Minister for taking 'keen personal interest' in developing enhanced partnership between the two countries.
Dr Singh also applauded the efforts of the Indian diaspora for keeping the culture, spirit and idea of India alive in their adopted homeland.