India, Japan Team up for NE
Japan to extend loan of ₹ 2,239 cr to improve NH-40 and build bypass on NH-54
New Delhi: A memorandum of understanding to set up India Japan Act East Forum with an aim to marry India’s Act East Policy with Japan’s Free and Open Asia-Pacific strategy in the backdrop of China’s One Belt One Road initiative is among the major agreements signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India for the 12th Indo-Japan annual summit, experts said.
The forum will enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in India’s Northeast region in an efficient and effective manner, according to the MoU signed following the summit in Gandhinagar on Thursday.
Japan has a historic connection to the Northeast and is among the few countries that India has allowed a presence in the eight landlocked states which are the country’s gateway to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members.
India and Japan on Thursday also signed a document on Japanese loan and aid for highway development in the Northeast that can complement India’s connectivity initiatives in Bangladesh, Myanmar and beyond, besides BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperati o n) Motor Vehi cl e Agreements.
Japan will extend a loan of ₹ 2,239 crore to India for ‘North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project’ to improve the National Highway 40 (NH-40) and construct a bypass on NH-54 in the Northeast. The project is expected to contribute to the improvement of the intra-regional and international connectivity through regional economic development.
Japan is keen to expand infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia amid China’s OBOR initiative and, along with India, it is exploring opportunities to develop projects in ASEAN. This is part of Indo-Japan corridor conceived last year for the IndoPacific region that also extends to Eastern Africa under Asia Africa Growth Corridor, an initiative that would provide an alternative to OBOR, which is being implemented in a non-transparent fashion dictated by China’s interests.
India and Japan agree that improving connectivity between Asia and Africa is vital for achieving prosperity of the entire region. The two countries have decided to seek synergy between India’s ‘Act East’ Policy and Japan’s ‘ Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure’, by closely coordinating, bilaterally and with other partners, for better regional integration and improved connectivity as well as industrial networks based on principles of mutual consultation and trust.
Development of the Northeast is a priority for India and a key to promote its Act East Policy. Japan has also placed a special emphasis on cooperation in the Northeast for its geographical importance of connecting India to Southeast Asia and historical ties (Japanese forces had fought British in Manipur during World War II), according to informed officials.