Defence takes centre stage in India-Japan ties

Posted September 13, 2017

The groundbreaking ceremony shall be held in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

The two Prime Ministers will visit Sabarmati Ashram to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on the banks of the Sabarmati River.

On the other hand, the fare structure of the bullet train is yet to be finalised, but according to officials from the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC), it will be 1.5 times the first class AC fare of trains running on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. This fact itself shows how important the Modi-Abe visit will be for BJP as far as the upcoming Gujarat election is concerned. This will be the fourth Annual Summit between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Abe, where they are expected to review the recent progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their "Special Strategic and Global Partnership". New Delhi has pledged to build high-speed railways focused on the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai.

The Sabarmati riverfront, with its heritage structures including the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, has been decorated ahead of the Modi and Abe visit.

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Abe's visit is seen as part of his efforts to consolidate the bilateral relationship between Japan and India, which was given a new thrust and heft under his leadership in 2012.

Connecting Mumbai - India's most populous city - to Ahmedabad, the 508km high-speed line will cost around €14 billion, with the majority of funding coming from a low-interest loan from Japan. Understandably, an Indian bullet train has raised eyebrows given the shabby state and unsatisfactory safety record of Indian railways in general. "Japan's openness to supply India with military technology also reflects the high level of confidence between the two countries". The project is slated for completion by 2023 but railway is making all efforts to complete by August 15, 2022.

Political science professor Koichi Nakano of Sophia University said that with Parliament in recess, Mr Abe was "able to use the "crisis" in North Korea to monopolise the spotlight by getting the media to portray him as a strong leader".

The two leaders will also attend the India-Japan Business Plenary where there would be a parallel CEOs conference that would be held at the same venue. Investments in Gujarat from Japan are also expected to rise in the near future.