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Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Dec. 29 summit with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi testifies to his desire to deepen Japan’s relations with India, which is emerging as an important player in the international community as its economy grows.

Under action plans agreed to by both leaders, Japan and India will hold regular vice ministerial-level dialogues on foreign policy and defense matters, as well as maritime security dialogues to safeguard the passage of commercial ships in the Indian Ocean. The dialogues will be meaningful because the safety of the ocean is indispensable for Japan, which heavily relies on oil imports from the Middle East.

The action plans, which also cover economic matters, are an outgrowth of the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation signed in October 2008 by then Prime Minister Taro Aso and Mr. Singh.

Mr. Aso tried to promote Japan-India ties with a view toward properly checking China’s expanding influence. The Hatoyama administration seems on good terms with China, while India and China are rivals. Mr. Hatoyama should seek deeper ties with India in a well-thought-out way so as not to cause friction with China.

Mr. Hatoyama and Mr. Singh agreed to speed up talks on concluding an economic partnership agreement and to realize at an early date a project to build a freight railway between New Delhi and Mumbai. Improvement in India’s infrastructure will benefit not only India but also Japanese companies engaged in economic activities in the country.

The two leaders supported an early conclusion of the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and Mr. Singh hinted that India may sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty if the United States and China ratify the treaty. Although India seeks Japan’s cooperation in the field of nuclear power generation, Japan should carefully watch India’s behavior with regard to nuclear disarmament.

This year will be an important year for the world in its efforts to fight global warming. Japan should strive to induce India, along with China and other emerging economies, to play constructive roles in these efforts.

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