Japan pledged on Thursday to provide India with yen loans of up to ¥100 billion ($940 million) for the construction of Mumbai’s subway system, and nearly ¥50 billion for other infrastructure projects.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj oversaw the signing of notes on the loans after they held the ninth round of a bilateral strategic dialogue in Tokyo.
Including the latest decision, Tokyo has pledged a total of ¥384.1 billion in loans to New Delhi in the current fiscal year ending Saturday, marking the largest yen loans that have ever been provided to a single country in a year.
“Japan has contributed to India’s nation building for many decades as a development partner … we will continue to actively support regional development, including by strengthening connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region,” Kono said at a joint press appearance after the signing.
“A consensus between Japan and India on the economic front is important for the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region,” Swaraj said.
The other ¥49 billion in loans will cover a desalination plant and technology to reduce traffic congestion in Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and tree-planting activities in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Kono said he and Swaraj agreed to begin a new “Indo-Pacific Dialogue” in order to build on existing bilateral public-private consultation frameworks.
At a subsequent working dinner, the ministers affirmed the importance of maintaining maximum pressure on North Korea to compel it to completely, verifiably and irreversibly abandon its nuclear weapons and missile programs, according to Japanese government officials.
They also agreed to further advance cooperation between Japan and India on maritime security, the officials said.
Japan and India have worked to strengthen their bilateral economic and security ties in recent years, amid China’s growing regional influence and its rising assertiveness in the South and East China seas and Indian Ocean.
The two countries decided to elevate bilateral ties to a “special strategic and global partnership” in 2014, at a summit in Japan between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.
The previous round of the strategic dialogue between the Japanese and Indian foreign ministers was held in India in January 2015, between Swaraj and Kono’s predecessor, Fumio Kishida.
Swaraj is on her first visit to Japan since taking up her portfolio in May 2014, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Photo Caption: Foreign Minister Taro Kono (right) and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attend a mews conference in Tokyo after holding a bilateral meeting on Thursday. | KYODO