Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a three-day visit to Japan, where he is due to sign a landmark but controversial nuclear deal with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
The Indian premier left for Tokyo on Thursday to hold the so-called Annual Summit, reviewing the entire spectrum of bilateral cooperation, with Japan, and also to sign a civil nuclear deal with the East Asian country after six years of negotiations.
The deal would allow Japan, a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology to India, an NPT non-signatory.
Under the deal, Tokyo would also commit to pulling out of the agreement if New Delhi carries out a fresh nuclear test, Japanese media had earlier reported.
The deal is, nonetheless, likely to alarm India’s nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan.
Since their partition in 1947, India and Pakistan have been involved in bitter rivalries, differing on an array of issues, most prominent among them the disputed Kashmir region.
The deal would also come against a backdrop of mounting regional tensions involving powerhouse China.
Furthermore, both New Delhi and Tokyo are involved in territorial disputes with Beijing. Japan lays claims to territory also claimed by China in the East China Sea as well as in the Indian Ocean, and India has a long-standing dispute of its own along its border with China.
In a statement released shortly before his departure, Modi said that India’s “partnership with Japan is characterized as a special strategic and global partnership. India and Japan see each other through a prism of shared Buddhist heritage, democratic values, and commitment to an open, inclusive and rules-based global order.”
The two sides are also expected to discuss ways to boost cooperation in areas such as trade, investment and security.
According to the statement, Modi also plans to have an audience with Japan’s Emperor Akihito and intends to visit the Japanese city of Kobe traveling there on the famous Shinkansen bullet train, a technology that will be brought to India for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed railway.
The Indian premier will also visit the Kawasaki Heavy Industries facility in Kobe, where the ultra-fast trains are produced.
Modi had already visited Japan in late August and early September 2014 on his first trip outside South Asia, months after coming to power. Abe had also paid a two-day visit to India last December. Modi and Abe also held talks on the sidelines of a Southeast Asia meeting in Laos in September as well.