KYOTO – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the ancient city of Kyoto on Sunday, the second day of a visit intended to strengthen security and economic relations and counter a increasingly assertive China.
Modi was accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his visit to a historic temple a day after he had a private dinner with Abe.
It is unusual for the prime minister to greet a foreign guest outside Tokyo.
The two leaders visited the 1,200-year-old Buddhist temple of Toji, a World Heritage site, and offered prayers in front of ancient statues early Sunday.
They also took a short walk near a five-story pagoda in the company of a priest. Buddhism, born in the Indian subcontinent, was brought to Japan through China and Korea in the sixth century.
Later in the day Modi met Nobel Prize-winning stem cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka, who heads the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University and briefed the Indian leader about cutting-edge research.
Modi arrived Saturday at Kansai International Airport near Osaka and spent the night in Kyoto.
On Monday he will hold an official summit with Abe in Tokyo as well as meet with business leaders.
Both nations hope to curb Beijing’s rising activity in the East and South China seas and the Indian Ocean.
In New Delhi, Modi told Japanese media in an interview last week that the two nations could “upgrade” their relations in the fields of defense and security.
“I see in the recent changes in Japan’s defense export policies and regulations a possibility to engage in a new era of cooperation in high-end defence technology and equipment,” he said.
At the summit the two leaders are likely to agree on launching a “two-plus-two” security consultative framework involving their foreign and defense ministers, according to Japanese media.
Japan already has such arrangements with the United States, Australia, Russia and France.
India and Japan will also try to conclude talks on a civilian nuclear agreement that will allow Tokyo to export nuclear-related technology to New Delhi, reports said.
They are also expected to agree jointly to produce rare earths that could be exported to Japan, a move that will further reduce Japan’s reliance on China for the supply of such minerals.
Rare earths are vital for the manufacture of high-tech products such as hybrid cars and mobile phones.