Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday the ties between India and Japan have become stronger from the time the two countries cooperated to make a car to coming together to manufacture the bullet trains.
Addressing the Indian community in this Japanese city, Prime Minister Modi said Japan has played an important role in India's economic development.
"When it comes to India's relations with the world, Japan holds an important position. These relations are not of today but date back to centuries. It has harmony and respect for each other's culture at its foundation," Modi said.
He said the bilateral ties are going to become more robust as India aims to become a $ 5 trillion economy in the next five years.
"There was a time when we were collaborating in building cars and today we are collaborating in building a bullet train," said Modi, who is in Japan to attend the G20 Summit to be held in Osaka from Friday.
"Today there is no such part of India where Japan's projects or investments have not left its mark. Similarly talent and manpower of India are contributing to strengthen Japan," he told the enthusiastic Indian diaspora who gave a rousing welcome to the prime minister at the Hyogo Prefecture Guest House.
India is planning to run its first bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad with Japan's help. The first stretch of the ambitious project is expected to be completed by 2022.
The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHRSCL) is in the process of acquiring land for the 508-kilometer project.
Modi said the ties between India and Japan will become stronger in 'New India' as he thanked the diaspora for being part of the world's largest democratic process, which saw the participation of 61 crore voters.
He said Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Justice Radhabinod Pal and many Indians strengthened India's relationship with Japan and that is why after WW-II, India and Japan's relationship reached newer heights.
"Almost two decades ago, prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then Japanese premiere Yoshiro Mori together made our relationship as a global partnership. After becoming Prime Minister in 2014, I got a chance to strengthen our friendship with my dear friend Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We took our diplomatic relations beyond the purview of capitals and ambassadors and took them directly among public," he said.
"This relationship," Modi said, "will become stronger in New India".
The prime minister also heaped praise on his ‘dear friend’ Abe.
"Besides Delhi and Ahmedabad, I had the opportunity to take Prime Minister Abe to Varanasi. He visited my parliamentary constituency and participated in the Ganga aarti there. Whenever he got the opportunity, he spoke of this divine experience," he said.
Modi said his government's main areas of focus were social security and infrastructure development.
"We'll launch Chandrayaan-2 in few months and by 2022 we're planning to launch India's maiden human spaceflight program-Gaganyaan,” he said.
Modi, who is visiting Japan for the first time after his re-election, said people of India have trusted him once again and have bestowed upon him much more responsibility.
"I'm fortunate to be here once again after 7 months. It's a coincidence that last time when I was here, election results were out here and you had shown trust in my dear friend Shinzo Abe. Today, when I'm here, the world's largest democracy has shown even greater trust in this 'Pradhan Sevak'," he said.
Thanking the Indian diaspora for playing a vital role in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, in which Modi was voted back to power with a stronger mandate, the prime minister said, "I am aware that many of you have also contributed in this electoral victory."
While several Indians from Japan came to India and worked on the field, many used social media like Twitter to spread the message of the democratic process, he said.
"For the first time since 1971, the country has given a pro-incumbency mandate to a government. This victory was the victory of truth and democracy," he said.
He noted that 61 crore voters, 10 lakh polling stations, over 40 lakh EVMs and more than 8,000 candidates took part in the world's largest democratic process.
The number of voters who participated in the Lok Sabha elections exceeded the population of almost all countries, barring China, he said.
"Government with majority is an advantage in foreign relations...The mandate (given to us) to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of new India will give a fillip to our relations with the world. The mantra of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas aur sabka vishwaas' that we are following will help strengthen the world's trust on India," Modi said.
During his visit to Kobe, the prime minister also witnessed the exchange of Letter of Intent on Ahmedabad-Kobe Sister City Partnership.
Earlier, Modi held wide ranging talks with Abe on the global economy, issues of fugitive economic offenders and disaster management and announced that the Indian President will participate in the coronation ceremony of Emperor Naruhito in October.
It was the first meeting between the two leaders since the start of Japan's Reiwa era and Modi's re-election after the general polls.
Modi thanked Abe for his warm welcome to him and the Indian delegation visiting Japan for the G20 Summit. He also appreciated Japan's leadership as the G20 chairman.
The prime minster said that President Ram Nath Kovind will participate in the coronation ceremony of Emperor Naruhito in October.
The prime minister congratulated Abe and Japan's citizens for the start of the Reiwa era. The term for the new era is made up of the two characters Rei and Wa. Rei means 'commands' or 'order', as well as 'auspicious' or 'good'. Wa means 'harmony', and is also used in the Japanese word for 'peace'.
Modi said that he was looking forward to the visit of Abe to India later this year for the Annual Summit.
Later, briefing media, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said it was a 'warm' meeting the two prime ministers who are 'old friends' and they had a 'very constructive and detailed discussion' on bilateral relationship.
"Abe initially began discussion with his expectation from the G20 Summit. They spoke about the importance of focussing on global economy," Gokhale said.
Abe referred to the Prime Minister Modi's initiatives on the earlier G20 meetings on the issue of fugitive economic offenders and he said the G20 should deal with this problem as part of its anti-corruption measures.
Abe also underlined the need to find appropriate measures to check the global trade issues and data flows and underlined that the G20 should also come up with a constructive message on the issue of climate change.
"These are the areas where Abe hoped that he would get the understanding and support of the G20 members, including that of India," Gokhale said.
Prime Minister Abe also referred to his forthcoming visit to India for the Annual Bilateral Summit.
"Abe emphasised the importance of preparing for this summit properly including through ministerial meetings, through various exchanges in infrastructure, defence, outer space, digital economy and start-ups," the foreign secretary said.
The two leaders also had a brief discussion on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor and on a convention centre being built in Varanasi, Prime Minister Modi's constituency. They agreed on the delivery of both the projects on time.
Modi said he is looking forward to seeing Abe again at the Eastern Economic forum in Vladivostok in early September. Modi will be the chief guest the forum at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Modi appreciated the work Japan is doing in the infrastructure projects in North East India.
He also sought Japan's assistance in building disaster resilient infrastructure.
Modi said Japan's support in this area is crucial because of its experience in disaster management, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Japan accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater and is exposed to uncountable natural disasters like typhoons and active volcanoes. The country has a long history of awareness of the importance of disaster risk reduction.
Gokhale said India is seeking collaboration among countries having capacity to handle disasters.
"Every time a disaster occurs immediate relief is given, but after that small vulnerable developing countries are left to fend for themselves- it means, focus on rebuilding infrastructure without which economy cannot regain its position," he said.
"Prime Minister Modi wants to link the disaster management capacities of the countries together so that if a disaster occurs leaders of counties know whom to go to and how to get help, rather than beginning from scratch," he said.
"This is not to compete with UN organisations which are in relief and rehabilitation because this is about building infrastructure -- India has experience and capacity to handle disasters, we can take a lead in it," he said.
The two leaders also emphasised the need to jointly take up projects in the neighbourhood. Modi said one of the important projects India and Japan are taking forward is setting up a cancer hospital in Kenya.
The foreign secretary said prior to Abe's visit number of meetings will take place and the most important is the first 2+2 talks between the foreign ministers and defence ministers of the two countries.
Apart from Abe, Modi will also meet, US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Putin and other leaders during the G20 Summit.
This will be Prime Minister Modi's sixth G20 Summit on June 28-29.