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Transcription of Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary in Gandhinagar on visit of Prime Minister of Japan to India (September 14, 2017)

September 15, 2017

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:A very warm welcome to all of you to this special press briefing in Gandhinagar. As you know we have the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister which is ongoing and to give you a briefing on the visit I have with me the Foreign Secretary of India, Dr. Jaishankar. I also have our Ambassador in Japan Mr. SujonShinoy and Jt. Secretary (East Asia) Mr. PranayVerma. After the address by FS we may take few questions and then we will conclude this session.

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: Good afternoon. As the spokesperson said we are still in the middle of the ongoing visit so what I’d like to do is to summarize to you, very briefly, what happened so far and share with you the main outcomes of the discussions that have taken place.

As you all know Prime Minister Abe arrived yesterday, you saw for yourself the welcome that he received which really was quite unique in many ways. Prime Minister accompanied him for the Sabarmati Ashram visit and after that they met over dinner. So they had a round of discussion obviously over dinner and then this morning we had delegation level talks as well.

Earlier in the day there was a ground breaking ceremony for the High Speed Rail Project and in the afternoon we had business event which I think many of you would be seeing. What we have done is, we have captured many of the aspects of the discussions in the joint statement. It is a somewhat lengthy joint statement but that is frankly because there is really a lot to discuss and a lot of outcomes of what is a very rapidly growing relationship.

I think if you look at the theme, the title of the joint statement that itself in many ways speaks for the state of the relationship. It is titled, "Towards a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific” and the broad thrust of the discussions yesterday and today have been about how to really elevate the level of the Special, Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.

The approach of the leaders has been that as Prime Ministers of two countries which play such a central role in safe-guarding and strengthening a rule based global order. We are trying to align each other’s approach towards the world in our case and towards the region. I Japan’s case i.e. the free and open Indo-Pacific Strategy, in our case it is the Act East Policy.

Many of the discussions revolved around strengthening defence and strategy cooperation. There was a big economic component. I think it was most visibly expressed today in the ground breaking of the High Speed Railway Project. There were important people-to-people relations, people-to-people contacts in that area, some important outcomes because I think both of us see it as creating also an enabling environment for more economic and security cooperation. Important among that is language teaching initiative which was agreed today. Broadly speaking we agreed also to work with other countries trilaterally and to look at various issues where our interests converge.

Now starting with the defence and security cooperation, till now broadly the thrust of the contact and cooperation has been on maritime security and on this occasion we agreed to explore cooperation and exchanges between the army and Japan Ground Self Defence Force and also between our Air force and Japan Air Self Defence Force as well as with the Coastguards.

There was discussion on defence cooperation including technology cooperation, equipment cooperation. Recently some of you would recall that RakshaMantri had visited Japan and had very positive discussions. At this time there is an ongoing issue on the US2 Amphibian Aircraft so those discussions continue and we were really looking in terms of more technology cooperation and equipment collaboration both in defence and dual use technology.

The connectivity was the second big theme and again both India and Japan shared a principled approach towards how connectivity should be built. So that is expressed in the joint statement. In our view connectivity should be open, it should be transparent, it should be non-exclusive and it should follow responsible debt financing practices. On the connectivity side there was a greater focus this time on Africa. We do the IAFS, The India Africa Forum Summit, exercise. The Japanese have something TICAD, which is Tokyo International Conference on African Developments, so the issue was how we mesh, what our two, till now autonomous reach outs to Africa.

Also on the connectivity side there were two issues of interest within India. One was we agreed on to work on a much more focused and substantive way on the North East and to that end we agreed on a Japan-India Act East Forum which will essentially the explore the possibilities of involving Japan in the development of North East infrastructure. As you all know development of the North East infrastructure would help us really open out much more to Myanmar, Bangladesh and beyond so it would in a practical way really would give legs to our Act East policy.

The other one which was again ongoing and which they discussed last year as well which was how to work together on Smart Islands, so there was some progress there.

Then coming to economic issues, railways of course was the centerpiece of this visit and railways, both in terms of ground breaking for the Sabarmati Station as well as the construction of the HSR Training Institute in Vadodara. Apart from High Speed we also work with Japan for the conventional railway system and on the metro rail system and Japan has been helping out with the safety issues on rail as well. We just had a team here last month in regard to that.

Japan has been closely involved with most of the flagship projects in India i.e. Make in India, Skill India, Digital India and in each of these programs found expression in our relationship. We agreed specifically on an investment promotion partnership which was putting together modalities which would further accelerate Japanese investments in India and here again many of the big infrastructure initiatives, DFC, DMIC, the Smart Cities, Japan has been already closely involved.

There was an agreement specifically for the Japan-India Special Program for Make in India where there would be a regional project based also in Gujarat. Also you will be seeing the start of the JIM i.e. the Japan Institute of Manufacturing which is under the manufacturing skill transfer program and we are setting up four of these JIMs in Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu and these are being done in collaboration with Japanese companies which are working in India.

I referred to the language training. Apart from language training we are also looking at internship programs, we are looking at human resources development programs. Then moving on to the ODA, we are Japan’s largest ODA partner and many of the ODA projects which were finalized in the course of this visit have really very major significance in terms of our own industry and among them was the ship-breaking recycling yard in AlangSosiya in Gujarat, North East road network connectivity, Calcutta East West Metro project and Gujarat Investment Promotion program.

I would refer to the fact that Japan is already involved in a number of Metro projects all of whom are progressing, in the Mumbai Trans-Harbor Link project as well as the Eastern Peripheral Highway in Delhi. Again Japan is a country with which we have worked to conclude a civil nuclear cooperation agreement which was concluded last year during Prime Minister’s visit and we were very pleased that Japan was able to ratify it and we see Japan as a very significant partner in many of our nuclear power projects which we will be doing with other countries as well.

Other than these, in terms of significant announcements, there was some discussion about easing visa requirement practices so the Japanese side showed a lot of interest in encouraging more Indian tourism and was willing to look at that. Finally few words about political, global and regional issues. Again it was a very wide ranging discussion yesterday and today. On ASEAN both of us agreed that the unity and the centrality of ASEAN to regional architecture was very important. In terms of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region we both highlighted the importance of freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded lawful commerce and full respect to UNCLOS. There was a lot of discussion understandably on North Korea and the Japanese side underlined their concerns in strong terms. It was an issue where we had complete meeting of minds and we have also indicated that we will be fully abiding by the UN Security Council resolution 2375 and both of us agreed on the importance of holding accountable all parties that have supported North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The other big issue that came up was terrorism and Japan is a country which has always maintained that it has zero tolerance on this issue and we agreed on rooting out safe havens, on disrupting terrorism networks, financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists. You will see in the joint statement the two countries have specifically agreed to cooperate in dealing with threats from Al-Qaida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other affiliates.

UN reform is an issue on which Japan is our long standing partner, as you know they are also candidates for the permanent seat in a reformed Security Council. The last big issue which came up here was APEC where Japan was supportive of India’s candidature.

So this broadly is the summary of the discussions, the outcomes. Most of it is reflected in the joint statement in greater length but I think this would lay out the outlines of the discussions which have taken place. I hardly need to emphasize that it was very visibly warm and comfortable interaction between the two Prime Ministers. They have both noted that they are meeting for the tenth time, so you could really see that both as country to country and Prime Minister to Prime Minister, this is a very strong and substantive relationship.

Thank you very much and we do have some time for few questions.

Question:On the development and cooperation in the North Eastern states in India are there any projects that have been identified by both the countries and any project specific to Arunachal Pradesh? Also there were very strong statementson terrorism and Pakistan, especially terrorism emanating from Pakistan. We have seen these statements in the past where Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have been mentioned, BRICS was one such forum and now we see it in Indo-Japan joint statement, can India expect any action from the Pakistani side on that front?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: On the North East, we have had some previous and in fact ongoing cooperation with Japan. Japan has assisted in some road building in North East but the intent this time is really to take it to a much higher level and both work in India in North Eastern states and also to see both of us can synchronize our cooperation with the countries which border the North Eastern states so that the Act East policy benefits from that synchronization. Exactly what will be the projects that is something which we have to work on so I think this forum will meet in the coming weeks and months so that we can work it out.

On the terrorism issue, you know to my mind these statements and I am not talking about just the India-Japan, you have mentioned about BRICS statement also, I think they have value. They have value because when a number of countries publicly raise the voice on issues and say look this behavior is not acceptable to us, these kinds of groups are beyond the bail of normal politicsthen what it does is, it creates a narrative because in Pakistan often these activities are justified and if the world remained silent or looks away then that justification is stronger. So the fact that I would suggest you whether it is the BRICS statement or bilateral statement like this or other bilateral statements, I do believe they have an impact.

Question:Was there any mention, even in the passing, of the Doklam stand-off between India and China during the talks between the two leaders? And also as you mentioned that in the joint statement the two sides have reaffirmed importance of freedom of navigation and over flight but I also noticed that you have dropped specifically a mention of South China Sea in the statement which was there earlier i.e. in the last year’s, so why was that? Was it at your behest or was it at Japan’s behest?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: Doklam was not specifically mentioned in the statement. I think there was a discussion on regional and global developments yesterday in a broader sense of the term. In terms of the freedom of navigation in South China Sea, you know when you are referring to Indo-Pacific, South China Sea is a part of Indo-Pacific, so if you are referring to a full set all the sub-sets are covered. First of all freedom of navigation and support for unimpeded commerce is not a matter on which we have a position with respect to a particular geography.

It is a principled position which applies everywhere including in other parts of maritime domain as well. Even in some other cases my recollection is, for example if you look at the US Joint Statement we decided that if you are stating a principle, we don’t have to limit a principle by necessarily introducing a geography unless it is particularly relevant. I think Indo-Pacific, in our view, covers it.

Question:Wondering what is coming in the way of concluding discussions on US2, it has been going on for a while.

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar:That is not an easy question for me to answer because I am not a negotiator but my understanding is that often these very specific discussions which could lead to contracts, these are matters of very deep detail and there are a lot of complicated issues so I’m sure they have a good reason. What I can tell you is that it is a serious discussion which is going on.

Question
:The joint statement notes deepening and expanding maritime cooperation and it specifically mentions anti-submarine aspects and maritime domain awareness. Is it in Indo-Pacific region or you are talking globally, is there a country specific approach there because anti-submarine, they are generally owned by countries?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: We are talking Indo-Pacific here because Indo-Pacific is the arena where the maritime domain awareness and the maritime cooperation is taking place.

Question:You mentioned that there was a discussion on North Korea where both sides said that it was necessary to hold all parties accountable who supported North Korea’s nuclear program, so I presume you are referring to China and Pakistan. Could you give us the idea of the flavor of discussions that comes to these two countries?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar:I would put it to you this way that today because of the missile and nuclear test, obviously North Korea emerged very high on people’s radar in terms of the concerns for global peace and stability. We have long had concerns about proliferation networks which have had a direct impact on our security. In the past perhaps the world did not entirely see that point of view because often the feeling was that if it was our problem, it’s our problem but if it was their problem it’s everybody’s problem. I think there is a change today and again this change we saw even when Prime Minister went to the United States. So the fact that the North Korean program has come under sharp and closer scrutiny then warrants the some examination of its backward linkages. You know as well as I do what those linkages are.

Question:Since the Rohingya refugee crisis is on, was there any kind of discussion between the two leaders yesterday and today? And India has just sent its first relief material, humanitarian assistance, to Bangladesh to the Rohingya refugee camps. How has this evolution of Indian position from a week ago in Myanmar and now, how has that taken place?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar:The Rohingya issue did not come for any specific discussion. There was some passing mention in the discussions. As regards what we are doing in Bangladesh, I think for that you will have to wait for his weekly press conference because this conference is limited to India Japan relations. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:This concludes the briefing. Thank you all.

(Concludes)

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