Japan, India leaders build ties amid trade, security worries

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Yamanakako village, Yamanashi prefecture, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP/Kyodo News/Suo Takekuma)
Updated 28 October 2018
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Japan, India leaders build ties amid trade, security worries

  • Modi has been urging countries in the region to unite against protectionism and cross-border tensions
  • India and Japan are also set to hold the first joint military exercises involving ground forces next month

TOKYO: The leaders of Japan and India are reaffirming their ties amid growing worries about trade and regional stability.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived Saturday, was meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a resort area near Mount Fuji on Sunday. Modi is also visiting a nearby plant of major Japanese robot maker Fanuc.
Relations with China are a major issue shared by Modi and Abe, as their cooperation may balance China's growing regional influence and military assertiveness.
"The India-Japan partnership has been fundamentally transformed and it has been strengthened as a 'special strategic and global partnership,'" Modi told Kyodo News service. "There are no negatives but only opportunities in this relationship which are waiting to be seized."
Modi chose Japan among the first nations to visit after taking power four years ago. He has been urging countries in the Indo-Pacific region to unite against protectionism and cross-border tensions.
In another sign of closer relations, India and Japan are also set to hold their first joint military exercises involving ground forces, starting next month.
Abe has just returned from China, where he met President Xi Jinping and agreed the two nations were "sharing more common interests and concerns."
President Donald Trump's policies that have targeted mostly China with tariffs, but also Japan and other nations, accusing them of unfair trade practices, are working to prod India and Japan to promote their economic ties.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry said the leaders had lunch at a hotel in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, and exchanged a wide range of views on pursuing "a free and open" Indo-Pacific region. Abe told Modi about his recent trip to China, and both sides agreed on the need to cooperate closely on getting North Korea to drop nuclear weapons development, the ministry said in a statement.
Japan's investment in India still has room to grow. Japan is helping India build a super-fast railway system.
Abe has made bolstering and opening the nation's economy central to his policies called "Abenomics," and has encouraged trade, foreign investment and tourism.
Although Japan has long seen the US as its main ally, especially in defense, Abe is courting other ties. He has also been vocal about free trade, which runs counter to Trump's moves to raise tariffs.
Earlier this year, Japan signed a landmark deal with the European Union that will eliminate nearly all tariffs on products they trade. European and Japanese leaders pledged to strengthen their partnership in defense, climate change and human exchange, to send what they called a clear message against protectionism.
Abe and Modi will hold a more formal summit Monday in Tokyo.


UN court: Russia must free detained Ukraine ships, sailors

Updated 5 min 49 sec ago
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UN court: Russia must free detained Ukraine ships, sailors

  • The Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea delivered its ruling Saturday on the case Ukraine brought against Russia
  • The confrontation in the Kerch Strait marked a flashpoint in the simmering conflict over Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula

BERLIN: A UN maritime tribunal has ruled that Russia must release three Ukrainian naval vessels captured by Russia in November and release 24 detained sailors.
The Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea delivered its ruling Saturday on the case Ukraine brought against Russia.
The confrontation in the Kerch Strait, which links the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea, marked a flashpoint in the simmering conflict over Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Russia seized Crimea in a move that Ukraine and most of the world view as illegal.
Tribunal president Jin-Hyun Paik said that judges decided Russia must “immediately” return the three ships to Ukraine’s custody, and release the sailors and allow them to return to Ukraine.