Shoichi Nakagawa, minister of economy, trade and industry, said Thursday he will make a five-day visit to India beginning Aug. 24 with a delegation of Japanese business leaders to boost bilateral trade and investment.

The 15 members of the business mission headed by Nobuo Ohashi, chairman of Mitsui & Co., will hold discussions with their counterparts, Nakagawa told a news conference.

The visit follows an earlier announced trip to Russia, to be held between Monday and Aug. 20, in which the minister is expected to visit Sakhalin and Khabarovsk to discuss a joint development project for crude oil and natural gas with local officials.

Nakagawa said the members of the business mission to India are top executives from automakers, trading houses and chemical firms.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Japan-India relations have remained at relatively low levels, even though the world’s second-most populous country is strategically important for Japan.

Citing Indian government statistics, METI said the country’s exports to Japan totaled $1.82 billion in fiscal 2002, or 4 percent of total exports.

Imports from Japan amounted to $1.80 billion, or 3 percent of total imports.

Nakagawa is expected to meet top officials of the Indian government during his trip and discuss a wide range of economic issues to deepen bilateral economic ties.

“I want to have the upcoming trip produce some kind of achievement,” he said.

Nakagawa said he will stop in Singapore on the way to and from India.

The trade minister will fly to Singapore on Aug. 23 and leave for India the following day. He will then make a stopover in Singapore Aug. 29 and leave for Japan on Aug. 30.

During the stopovers, he will meet Singaporean government officials, including Lee Hsien Loong, the new prime minister, he said.

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