Noda seeking to visit India in November

Kyodo

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda may visit India in November to deepen Japan’s ties with the rapidly developing country.

If trip goes ahead, Noda is expected to use the occasion to build a closer relationship with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior Indian government officials and business leaders, government sources said Wednesday.

Yukio Hatoyama was the last prime minister to visit India, in December 2009.

During his planned visit, Noda would also likely discuss China’s growing influence.

“Japan’s economic growth is impossible without working closely with India,” one of the sources said. “Strengthening ties with the country would also keep the rise of China in check.”

A free-trade agreement between Japan and India entered into force in August. The accord will help Japanese firms develop their presence in the fast-growing economy and eliminate tariffs on 94 percent of two-way trade within 10 years.

In addition to the United States and China, Noda is looking to enhance Japan’s ties with India and other emerging economies such as Brazil and South Africa.

Earlier this month, Noda told a meeting in Tokyo that he wants to work more closely with India because the two countries will next year mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Other topics of discussion between Noda and Singh would likely cover issues related to North Korea and prospects of signing a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, the sources said.