Abe first Japanese premier at R-Day

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New Delhi: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the Chief Guest at the 65th Republic Day parade here today, becoming the first premier from that country to grace the occasion.

Abe attended the over one-and-a-half hour parade at the magnificent Rajpath which showcased social, cultural aspects and military might of the 1.2-billion strong nation.

The Japanese Prime Minister arrived here yesterday on a three-day official visit. He has already held extensive talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during which both leaders decided to enhance security, defence and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Signifying growing bilateral defence ties, India has also invited Japan to be part of the Indo-US naval exercise later this year even as a joint working group was meeting in March to work out the modalities for supply of US-2 amphibian aircraft from Japan.

The two countries also inked as many as eight agreements, including those to promote tourism, enhance energy efficiency in telecom towers and power generation in India.

Coming against the backdrop of tensions between Japan and China over a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea, Abe’s India visit and its outcome are also expected to be keenly watched by the Chinese government.

Prime Minister Singh had yesterday said that the partnership between a strong and economically resurgent Japan and a transforming and rapidly growing India can be an “effective force of good” for the region.

Abe was also invited to the ‘At Home’ programme at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

In the last one year, there have been a series of high- level visits between the two countries. Singh had visited Japan in May last year during which both sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in diverse fields, particularly in trade and investment.

Japan’s Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko had come to India on a six-day visit over a month back. The visit was the first to any South Asian country by the Emperor after he was enthroned in 1990.

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