Modi touts India as vast market for Japanese firms

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Tuesday on Japanese companies to tap into Indian markets, stressing the South Asian nation has three important elements when it comes to business: democracy, human resources and vast demand.

Speaking in front of more than 1,500 people at a business seminar in Tokyo, Modi said his country, with a population of more than 1.2 billion, has an excellent environment for Japanese firms wanting to expand overseas.

“There are no countries (other than India) featuring three important elements, which are democracy, human resources and demand,” Modi said.

As an example of the huge variety of opportunities India has on offer, the 63-year-old Modi cited the subway industry, saying that around 50 cities in India are waiting to build metro systems. He also pointed to the mobile phone industry, noting that there are more mobile phones than people in India.

Modi has received high praise for his economic policies that led to development and growth in western India’s Gujarat state, where he served as chief minister since 2001.

The seminar, organized by Nikkei Inc. and the Japan External Trade Organization, was attended by both Japanese and Indian executives.

On Monday, Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a joint declaration to further enhance the nations’ strategic partnership, including in the economic field, following their summit in Tokyo.

Abe told reporters after the meeting that the two governments set a joint target within five years to double Japan’s direct investment in India and the number of Japanese firms operating in the South Asian country.

Japan’s direct investment in India last year stood at about ¥210.2 billion, with 1,072 Japanese companies operating there as of last October, according to Foreign Ministry figures.

Abe said Japan plans to offer about ¥3.5 trillion of private and public investment and financing, including official development assistance, to India over the next five years. The plan aims to finance projects in such areas as transportation systems, manufacturing, skill development, water security and rural development, according to the joint declaration.