Public Diplomacy

Transcript of Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary in Tokyo on Prime Minister’s Japan Visit

May 29, 2013

Official Spokesperson (Shri Syed Akbaruddin): Good evening friends. I must apologise before I begin for keeping you waiting but at least there is still time available for Indian deadlines. So, I hope you will forgive us this one time that we have kept you waiting a little.

We have here with us Foreign Secretary who will brief you on the entire events of today, i.e., the two meetings that the Prime Minister has had with his counterpart as also other meetings. We have with Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Deepa Wadhwa who is our Ambassador in Tokyo. If you would like to ask her any other question because she has been involved with the entire preparationsfor thisvisit.We further have here, on my right, Mr. Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia), who was handling this visit from New Delhi. Finally we have here the familiar figure of the Communications Advisor to Prime Minister, Mr. Pankaj Pachauri. With these introductions I will ask Foreign Secretary to make his brief opening remarks following which the floor will be open for any questions that you may have. Foreign Secretary.

Foreign Secretary (Shri Ranjan Mathai): As Akbar just told you, we are late but that is because the event of the evening has just got over fifteen minutes ago and we have just been able to come here.

You are aware of the extensive engagements that PM has had over the last two days in Tokyo. These included an audience with Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress of Japan at which only our Ambassador was present. So, if there are any questions on that, you can direct them to her. That was followed by a private lunch purely for Prime Minister and Shrimati Kaur with the Emperor and the Empress.

Last night, Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe hosted a private dinner for PM and Shrimati Kaur, which was an occasion both for renewing their acquaintance as well as some substantive discussions. There were talks between the two Prime Ministers this evening, first in a restricted format and then in the delegation-level format. Immediately after the delegation-level format was the press interaction where I think most of you were present.

I draw your attention also to the fact that the Prime Minister delivered two major addresses during this visit. The first was focused on economics and business, and that was to Nippon Keidanren, and the second was the larger canvas of India- Japan relations which was to the Japan-India Association, the Japan-India Parliamentary Friendship League, and the Friendship Exchange Council, who jointly hosted that event. I believe most of you have already covered those speeches, so I will not spend any more time on them.

Today, Foreign Minister Kishida and METI Minister Motegi called on PM during the evening just before he went for his meeting with the Prime Minister. The leader of the Democratic Party of Japan which was holding office till the last election - the current leader is Mr. Kaieda - and the leader of the new Kometo Party Mr. Yamaguchi, had also called on PM.

The main message covered by PM during his range of activities in Tokyo is that India looks forward to expanding the strategic and global partnership with Japan. This covers political exchanges, economic interactions and strategic affairs. As the Prime Minister put it, the global and strategic partnership between India has been designed to lift our bilateral relations to an entirely new level, spreading from the area of economic cooperation, trade development, infrastructure development in India with Japanese assistance to the strategic areas of our current relationship.

You have seen the Joint Statement issued earlier today by the two Prime Ministers. They actually signed it in your presence. I would refer to some of the highlights of this document. It underlines what I Just called the Strategic and Global Partnership and includes some specific issues in that partnership. For example, India and Japan have agreed to institutionalize bilateral naval exercises, to conduct them regularly and with increased frequency. The Japanese Government has offered to sell the US-2 amphibious aircraft to India. This has been reported already. This is one of the few occasions where Japan has offered to sell such dual use equipment with both military and civilian applications to a foreign country. I draw your attention to the fact that this has dual uses. The idea is that this is an aircraft with extraordinary capabilities of landing even in fairly high seas where waves are quite high and has a very very long range, therefore,ithas both civilian as well as possible military applications.

Our Prime Minister noted Japan’s unwavering support for India’s development process, and the DMIC, the Dedicated Freight Corridor, and now what is emerging as a new area of cooperation which is the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor are all symbols of this commitment of Japan. You are aware that our Ambassador signed the latest in the infrastructure development agreements which will be funded from Japanese ODA and that is the Mumbai Metro LineIII affProject for 71 billion yen.

The Japanese side has given great emphasis to the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor. There is a critical mass of Japanese industry which is investing in that particular region, and therefore they fell that this particular corridor holds great potential for the future. As part of this, there has been a preliminary study for a comprehensive integrated master plan, and we have now completed the terms of reference to take forward this master plan.

The two Prime Ministers also agreed to co-finance a joint feasibility study on the possible introduction of high-speed railways or Shinkansen on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route in India. Now as you are aware, one of the great achievements of Japan is the Shinkansen or the high-speed rail and we are all familiar with the extraordinary achievements of Japan. We are going to have a joint feasibility study to see how this fits in with the overall plans of our Railways given their priorities, and we would like to take it forward after that feasibility study is over.

India and Japan are also cooperating in the field of rare earths. A government-to-government memorandum was signed by the Ambassador last November and it is already in place. Companies from India and Japan – the Indian Rare Earths Limited and Toyota Tsusho – are negotiating the sale of rare earth oxide.

You have witnessed, as I said, the exchange of diplomatic notes for the Mumbai Metro project. The total commitment of Japan ODA this year would be the highest which it has ever been, which is over three billion, and I think that is in the Joint Statement.

You would see from the Joint Statement that the two Prime Ministers have directed us officials to accelerate negotiations - I mark the words - accelerate negotiations on a bilateral agreement for cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy so that we can conclude an agreement at an early date.

There were also a number of initiatives in the field of people-to-people exchanges on which I would ask our Ambassador to elaborate later in case any of you have interest. The IIT Hyderabad is one such; the Indian Institute of Information Management, Jabalpur is another; and the Genesis programme under which Prime Minister Abe said he would like to have more than a thousand young Indian people come and visit Japan, are all examples of this. There was appreciation for India’s, what was described as encouraging words which is really, endorsement of Japan’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020.

I would, therefore, sum up that PM has had an extremely successful visit to Tokyo which has led to expanded strategic understanding between India and Japan which, as the Prime Minister himself stated, will contribute to peace and stability in Asia and in the world.

On a completely separate note I had mentioned that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister both expressed their shock over the attack which took place in Chhattisgarh and conveyed their condolences over this, and it was described as inadmissible in a democracy that attacks of this nature should take place.

I referred to the IIT Hyderabad. We did raise a number of issues with the Japanese side on the commercial arena. The Prime Minister urged Japan to make the registration procedures for generics and pharmaceutical products quicker and easier. And he was assured that the Japanese side would look into this. This, as you know, has been a longstanding issue.

Japan’s contribution to the Nalanda University, which is coming up, through the Faculty of Peace Studies was referred to. And finally we are greatly honoured that Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress of Japan will visit India at the end of November-early December this year.

I will stop there and throw open the field to questions. Thank you.

Question:Sir, today we had a briefing in the afternoon from one of the members of Prime Minister’s Office. He told us that on civil nuclear cooperation there will be two tracks – one he said we will continue to work on how we can achieve this, and on the other side he talked about a number of things that are required to be done by India. And he said we cannot put a deadline or dateline. Roughly, he said maybe two years. Would you like to say anything on this?

Foreign Secretary:I am not sure which are the two tracks he is referring to. We have a dialogue which is an ongoing one for a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which is handled by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Department of Atomic Energy together. That process will continue. Perhaps he is referring to other sets of dialogues which we have on the export control regimes where we have another set of dialogues which is ongoing. But if you see, even in that, in the Joint Statement there is agreement to work together for India’s full membership, full membership, of all the four export control regimes. Now I do not know where the timeline of two years has emerged from. As far as we are concerned, we are going on the basis that it has been decided to accelerate the process of the negotiations.

Question:Is it possible to have full-fledged membership unless we sign CTBT and NPT?

Foreign Secretary:I think the four export control regimes stand on their own. They are issues on which our position is well-known. And the export control regimes proceed on the basis of the acceptance of the entire body of accepting new members.

Question:I just bring you back to the question of export control regimes. Could you just elaborate on the paragraph because it talks about a few things? It says, the Prime Ministers recognize the importance of an effective national export control system. Now we have done a lot in the national export control system. Does it mean that what we have done till now is falling short of Japanese standards? And second, when it says that commitment to continue to work to prepare the ground rules can that be interpreted as support because Japan had a kind of a different point of view at the last Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting?

Foreign Secretary:I think these are two separate issues. They talk about preparing the ground, not the ground rules, which is preparing the way for India to enter.

Question:Can that be construed as support?

Foreign Secretary:It is support. It is very clear-cut support for India’s moving towards the membership.

Question:About the national export control system.

Foreign Secretary:I think what that line refers to is the extensive briefing we have given to the Japanese as to our other partners, on the upgradation of our export control regimes. You might be aware that our SCOMET lists as they are called are upgraded and this actually was announced when the Director-General of the IAEA was in Delhi, and it has been accepted by most of our partners that today our lists of this what is called SCOMET by DGFT are in fact in line with the best practices of the NSG, the MTCR and the other export control regimes. I think this is a recognition of that.

Question:Sir, how important would be the domestic politics for the Japanese? While we were coming out of the function today, we saw some protests directed against both the Japanese Government and the Indian Government saying no to nuclear exports. How important would be domestic politics in deciding which way Japan goes?

Foreign Secretary:I can hardly comment on the domestic politics of Japan. That would not be appropriate for me to do. What I would say is that if you see even in the statement the Japanese Prime Minister has formally recognized the excellent nonproliferation record of India. That has in fact been mentioned in the Joint Statement. I think we are reaching a stage where today the possibilities of cooperation between Japan and India are taking a decisive step forward. As you are aware, the Japanese Prime Minister had recently visited a number of countries where he in fact signed civil nuclear cooperation. Our Ambassador might be able to expand on this a little, maybe she could tell us which countries they were. But it is in line with that that I think he is moving towards a responsible policy on civil nuclear cooperation with many countries, and certainly he recognizes India’s special place in this scheme of things.

Indian Ambassador to Japan (Ms. Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa):The countries have been: Turkey, the UAE, Vietnam. I believe that he is headed shortly to East Europe, the old…(Inaudible)…countries, and I think the objective is really the same. So, they certainly are out in the market with nuclear reactors because they believe there are very high safety standards in this country.

Foreign Secretary:I think that is one important point in terms of the domestic opinion which you mentioned. Domestic opinion is focused very sharply also on safety. And the Japanese Prime Minister did mention, the Japanese Foreign Minister did mention, that it is the safety element in Japanese technology which they are emphasizing today.

Question:Sir, the statement states about a gas-based IPP in Maharasthra. Can you elaborate on the location and the size of the power plant to be established by the Japanese?

Foreign Secretary:That is under the DMIC.

Ambassador to Japan:It is one of the early-bird projects.

Foreign Secretary:I do not know if we have a location here.

Question:Sir, regarding the rare earths, when is it likely to start the commercial production? And, is there a Chinese angle for that because the export of rare earths from China to Japan is now affected by their bilateral relations?

Foreign Secretary:I will answer the first one and that is that the negotiations are now at a stage where we are trying to work out between the two commercial entities. Last November the Ambassador and the Japanese counterpart signed the Intergovernmental Agreement, which makes cooperation in the field of rare earths through a joint venture a possibility, a definite target of the two governments. What we are doing now is that the two entities which have been identified by each government - on our side Indian Rare Earths Limited and on the Japanese side Toyota Tsushu - to arrive at a commercial agreement so that they can start production. When you arrive at a commercial agreement you need to make decisions on issues like pricing, volume, etc. That is under negotiations right now. There is an accounting procedure which has to be gone through. Once that procedure is over, I think they should be able to start production. We were in fact told that on the Japanese side the plant is in fact going to be ready or it is already ready.

Question:Would you agree with the perception that Indo-Japan trade has failed to match the hype over the friendly relations between the two countries? For example, the two-way trade is just about 18 billion dollars and it has in fact fallen in the current financial year. Why is this happening? Your comments.

Foreign Secretary:I will ask the Ambassador to first start on the facts of the trade and then I will deal with the perception later.

Ambassador to Japan: I wonder how that perception came about because I think in one year it grew from about 13 million to 18 million dollars. So, it has not certainly been a fall. Maybe it is not growing as we would like it to, as our expectations are, but certainly it is on an upward trajectory.

Foreign Secretary:I will say that Prime Minister has repeatedly said and the Japanese Prime Minister agreed with him that 18 billion is really far below the potential of the two countries. I would not link it to hype about our relations. We need to deal with the reality of where our trade was ten years ago, where it is now, and where it is likely to go. We are focusing on where it is likely to go. We believe that there is tremendous potential for our trade to increase; and there are a number of areas in which we are working together. And we believe the investment-led trade growth will be a very important factor. We must remember that it was only in August 2011 that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was signed, and it is only a year and a half coming on to two. I think in the next few years you will see this full flowering of the potential of the CEPA. And when Japanese investment into India grows, you will see a concomitant growth in the trade relationship between the two countries. We have been assured again and again that a very large number of Japanese companies have now prioritized India as the area where they would like to invest.

I know that even two years ago India was identified as potentially the best country to invest. But today there is a critical mass of opinion growing in the offices of the CEOs, this is the feeling we got when Prime Minister addressed the Keidanren. We were sitting and talking to a large number of business people who said, no I think the time has come now. Perhaps they were waiting and watching to see the global situation, the evolution of our own policies. But I think they have now reached a decision that investing in India makes sense for Japan.

Question:Question for the Foreign Secretary and the Ambassador, on a completely separate track. There was the case in the Delhi High Court recently where they have instructed the Central Government to ascertain the location of Subhash Chandra Bose’s ashes. I just wanted to check with the Ambassador if that is something that the Embassy is looking into. Are you looking into it? His ashes are supposed to be at a temple here in Tokyo. Anything on that at all since the court instructed the Central Government to figure out where the ashes are?

Foreign Secretary:This is an issue of great national importance and there is no underestimating how important that issue is. But we will have to await specific instructions. As you know, there is a long history to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s presence in this country, his activities in this country, and his ashes in this country, his memories.

Question:Sir, any timeline regarding acquisition of ambhibious aeroplane?

Foreign Secretary:Let me be very clear. What we have agreed to is a setting up of a Joint Working Group to examine the potential of this aircraft, the possibilities of whether it can be used, whether it should be manufactured jointly. There are a number of issues which will have to be looked at. This is a very new proposal which has come to us. It needs to be fitted into a larger framework of how we proceed both, as I said this is a dual use, as a civilian project and as a defence project. We will have to study it. So, the Joint Working Group will go into issues like what is the capability, what will be the uses of this aircraft, can it be jointly produced, which agencies would use it, what would be the off take, a number of such related issues. It is early days yet but I think the fact is that this is an aircraft with very extraordinary potential. Given its long range, its ability to land and take off in very choppy seas, it is a technological achievement. So, we would certainly like to look at it.

Question:Japan has undertaken three important corridors, as you have mentioned. But most of them are lagging behind schedule. What is the reason behind it?

Foreign Secretary:The DFC West is on track.

Ambassador to Japan:I also agree. I do not think they are lagging behind schedule. The Dedicated Freight Corridor is on track. I think it should be ready by about March 2017, that is what we are told. And the DMIC also I think has perhaps reached the implementation phase because there have been lot of studies. The Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor actually is going to envelop a lot of existing Japanese investments in that area as well as build infrastructure. And I think the master plan has just been completed. So, I do not think there are delays.

Foreign Secretary:In fact when you talk of the DMIC, I wish we had brought Mr. Amitabh Kant who is the CEO of DMIC, with us. The size and scale of what is being sought to be achieved through the DMIC is really a game changer. It could transform the nature of industrial growth in that entire western section of India. Just to give you an example, if you look at the plans for Dholera which is in one segment of that corridor, I am told by some people who know, that it is larger than Shenzhen. I mean that is the scale on which this is being planned. So, this is going to be a long-term project, and it will take a certain amount of time. But when it comes through, it will be the biggest thing that has happened in terms of industrial development in western India.

Question:Sir, one question not related Japan. Is it correct that Mumbai police has contacted MEA to bring back Asad Rauf, umpire of Pakistan?

Foreign Secretary:I have not heard about it but I have been out for the last two days. When I get back I will check it.

Question:Sir, it seems Japan has of late been concerned about aggressive stance of China. Today they also talked about how by force and might they are trying to change boundaries. Were these concerns shared in the course of last two days?

Foreign Secretary:I think when the Prime Minister said the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan is in the interest not only of our two countries but in the interests of Asia, the Asia-Pacific region, and therefore, because of the importance of this region, to the larger world, I think we are talking in terms of building structures of stability. Obviously this means that we share a lot of interests, we share a lot of concerns, we share a lot of ideas about how to build a better architecture of security in our region.

Official Spokesperson:If there are no other questions, thank you very much.



May 29, 2013


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