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Transcript of Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary in Tokyo on the visit of Prime Minister to Japan (November 11, 2016)

November 12, 2016

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Good evening friends and welcome to this briefing from Tokyo. As you all know the 11th Annual Summit between India and Japan has just concluded.

We have had very far reaching and wide ranging talks between our Prime Minister and Prime Minister Abe. Ten agreements have been signed including the landmark Nuclear Cooperation agreement. A joint statement has also been signed and has been uploaded on our website.

To brief you on the very important meetings that Prime Minister had beginning this morning with the Emperor, I have with me Foreign Secretary Dr. S Jaishankar, our Ambassador to Japan Shri Sujan Chinoy and our Jt. Secretary (East Asia) Shri Pradeep Rawat.

Foreign Secretary is going to give you a broad overview of the discussions that were held particularly in the meeting with the Prime Minister Abe and thereafter he is open to taking few questions. With that I give the floor to Foreign Secretary.

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: Thank you Vikas. As you are aware we are still in the middle of a visit. We have done the first day of substantive talks and tomorrow our Prime Minister will be going to Kobe in the Shinkansen bullet train. Prime Minister Abe will be accompanying him. I am giving you the read out after the first formal session of talks.

Today the Prime Minister’s day began with a call on His Majesty and after that he addressed a business meet. He met the CEOs of the two countries and then delivered an address at the Keidanren. Then he received the Foreign Minister Mr. Kishida, he received former Prime Minister Mori, who as some of you would be aware, has a very special place in our relationship by virtue of the 2000 visit that he made.

The talks that were held this evening were a fairly long, delegation level talks where bilateral relations were reviewed. Then there was a smaller group where regional and global issues were discussed. This was followed by a press conference, signing of agreements and a banquet.

We have released the Joint Statement, many of you would have had the chance to look at it. What we had today was very much a follow up of the 2014 and 2015 summits. One part of it was review of a very strong follow up of what was agreed to in the past, but the other part was how do we take this relationship to a new level.

What we have seen over the years but particularly the last two years is a very definite broadening out of the India-Japan relationship. If you look at the issues that are discussed, the quality of the conversations, the nature of engagement between the two countries. This is definitely a much deeper, much complex, much more important relationship for both countries and I think that fact came out very clearly in the discussions and you would have also noted it in the press remarks that the two leaders made.

From our point of view one reason why this relationship is particularly important is that as we embark on our own modernization programs in India, if you look at all the flagship programs i.e. Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Swachh Bharat, many of these draw on the experiences of East Asia and particularly of Japan.

What they have done in the last two years is that they have actually created a much deeper empathy and understanding for India in Japanese policy making circles. On our side also there is a sense that there is a lot that we can learn from Japanese experiences and I think I recall the Prime Minister actually pretty much saying so in his remarks at the banquet.

The last few years have seen a very sharp increase in Japanese economic activity in India. I would point to a steady trend. In the last decade Japanese FDI grew by six times but the acceleration has been very visible in the last two years and we have more than 1200 Japanese companies today operating in India. Many of them are looking to scale up their operations.

The overall tenor of the business report which was presented by Mr. Sakakibara and Mr. Kalayni to the two Prime Ministers, if you go through the report, it is a very optimistic report. It looks at the possibilities that await businesses in the two countries and expresses a lot of confidence that the economic activity can really be scaled up in the next few years.

While the FDI picture has been good, the ODA picture has also been very positive. We have seen the ramping up of Japanese development assistance and again as we look towards the next set of projects, the general tenor of talks today was really to invest in projects which will make a big difference particularly to infrastructure in India.

You are also aware that starting with the Dedicated Freight Corridor, then the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, last year the Japanese committed to the Chennai-Bengaluru corridor, which will start moving in due course, but with the FDI, the development assistance and the corridors, the missing piece in a way was the skills element, that is, whether we actually have trained human resources really to take all of this forward.

One very big outcome of today’s discussion was a very important skills program, what is called Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Program which would train 30,000 persons over the next ten years in Japanese style manufacturing skills. So while the economic report card has been very strong and continuous, I think, today with the agreement on skills we have now the full architecture to take our economic cooperation forward.

Staying broadly on the same field, I think, many of you know that Japan has been very active in connectivity programs and initiatives in India. I have mentioned some of the corridors, of course, the flagship ones is the high speed rail. Today some important decisions were taken here again and it was agreed that the general consultant will start work in December 2016 and the construction work would commence in the end of 2018 and the operation itself of the Shinkansen line will start in 2023. Both Prime Ministers look forward to do a ground breaking ceremony sometime next year.

Moving on, the other big news today was the signing of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. It is something which has taken sometime to negotiate for very understandable reasons. The agreement is broadly in line with the agreements that we have done with many other countries, but as an agreement which has been done somewhat later than some of these agreements, the best way to describe this would be if I were to compare this agreement with the US agreement, which many of you know, in the case of US we did our bilateral 123 agreement in 2007, then a year later we went to the NSG and we got a NSG exemption in 2008, then in 2010, two years later, we did the reprocessing agreement and finally the administrative agreement in 2015.

So if you look at it, it was really an eight year endeavor spread over four stages. Now what we have tried to do, because sequentially it happens to be later, we have tried to actually compress these four stages into one so what was contained in each of these four stages,the bilateral cooperation, the NSG exemption, the reprocessing, the administrative, they are all captured into a single stage and that was essentially the agreement that was signed today. I am not quite clear when we would release the text, all I would tell you at this time is that it is very much on the lines of the agreements which have been signed and which captures these four stages which I described to you in the case of the United States.

Other than that there was a lot of discussion on security issues, regional issues, and global issues. Discussions ranged on security side from security of the maritime domain to concerns of two countries about terrorism. As many of you know Japan also lost many of its nationals in Bangladesh, recently also in Syria. A sense that the two countries could do much more not only in defence but also in the broader security side.

There were some exchanges of views on regional issues, on South East Asia, South Asia, on the direction of global politics, on issues like climate change, UN Security Council reform where we again work very closely with the Japanese. The other pillar which came up with some degree of discussion was the people to people exchanges. On people to people exchanges, there was very strong appreciation of the visa regime that we have carved out for Japan which has been very helpful in terms of accelerating traffic between the two countries.

On encouraging exchanges, on encouraging tourism from India the Japanese said that they were making special efforts. Some discussion was based on how to expand language teaching, student exchange etc.

So if you take the totality of what I am placing before you, you can see a very in depth, very detailed bilateral review, a very active exchange on regional issues, global issues. I would say not just an exchange but in many ways a meeting of minds because on many of these issues the Japanese perspectives were quite similar to ours.

That sums up the core of the discussion. I don’t know if the Ambassador would like to add something, then we can take some questions and develop the narrative.

Question: During the press statement Prime Minister Abe referred to NPT and CTBT also. What is the sense you get from that?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: You see, Japan is a signatory of the NPT and CTBT and you heard the positions that he said. We understand that Japan would have those positions. From our point of view, we have a very strong non-proliferation record, a very responsible record that is the record which has been the basis for international cooperation in civil nuclear energy with us. While we are not a party to the NPT, there is a broad recognition, including by Mr. Abe today, that this is a country with a very responsible record and which is truly a worthy partner when it comes to international civil nuclear energy cooperation.

In the case of CTBT, our position is well known. We declared a voluntary unilateral moratorium. In fact, at the time of NSG exemption in 2008, we had made a statement laying out our policy in that regard. So where Japan was concerned in the context of conclusion of this agreement, that commitment of September 2008 was reiterated but that in itself is not a novel development. The September 2008 commitments also lie at the heart of our case for NSG membership today, so it isn’t only in Tokyo, NSG is meeting in Vienna. This is also something which is respected and recognized there as well.

Question: Is there any termination clause in the nuclear deal as part of the agreement or as part of any extra memorandum? Number two, you didn’t mention anything on defence on US-2, was there any discussion during the bilateral conversation?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: Yes, most of our civil nuclear cooperation agreement, I would say probably all of them, have a clause on termination and cessation of cooperation. The US one has one as well, the Japanese agreement also has one clause which is quite similar one to the US one. Again, as I said, I am not very clear on the status of release of the text of the agreement, but as and when the text is released you will find a striking similarity between the two.

US-2 came up for some discussion. We are still in the process of evaluating our requirements for the US-2, trying to understand different aspects of the utility of aircraft. We are not near a decision in this matter and in the spirit of partnership we are quite open on this with the Japanese and they understand that.

Question Contd.: Is pricing an issue?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: We don’t discuss issues of defence acquisitions as such in public with correspondents.

Question: Need some clarifications on the nuclear deal. You said that there is striking similarity between 123 and what we have done today.

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: I said in respect for the clause on termination and cessation of cooperation.

Question Contd.: but in the broad template it is also roughly that?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: It is very similar but I would say that there are some changes.

Question Contd.: That’s what I want to know. There are two questions that I have. One is, what are Japan specific features which we have incorporated in this particular deal i.e. any improvisation or whatever over 123? And second, you said that all the four stages have been compressed, which would mean that administrative arrangements all have been taken care of, so is it ready for take-off, i.e. implementation?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: In the case of Japan, like the US Congress, the parliament has to approve it. There are some changes, when you take four stages and compress it into one that itself brings in a lot of changes. There are annexures pertaining to reprocessing which in the case of the US-123 agreement were not there. Again some aspects of administrative arrangements which were separately negotiated with the US are reflected as part of the overall text out here.

Another change would be that many of the technical definitions have changed over the years. I am referencing it with the US agreement because that is the one which most of you are familiar with, so between 2007 and 2016 it’s been nine years so a lot of definitions have changed and hence obviously the newer definitions are captured in this.

I think we have much more on nuclear safety and security because, while there is a general similarity, every one of the agreements, reflects naturally, the concerns and the priorities of the partner country. So if you look at the Australian agreement it is a little different, if you look at the Canadian agreement it is a little different i.e. each one is different. So in case of Japan, one is the passage of time i.e. we have compressed more into a single document. Also the fact that NSG definitions have also got updated in the last decade. So these among other things are the differences what other agreements had, as you mentioned.

Question: Talking about nuclear deal, as you know Japanese are slightly touchy about the word ‘nuclear’. How hopeful are you that this deal will go through, because that really is the concern considering there are people who feel that this should not be the way it is and how hopeful are you that it will be ratified?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: I know that Japan has certain sensitivities and we all also know that. I think the inference which accompanied the observation on your part, I am not sure, is warranted. At the end of the day the Government of Japan has concluded an agreement. We conclude agreements in the expectation that agreements are then ratified and implemented so I see no reason why that should not be the case.

Question Contd.: One more point. On the Indo-Pacific, Japan has reservations, it is kind of wary of Chinese assertiveness and also in a way it wants some kind of backing as far as India is concerned because we also have stakes there. So was that discussed and has some assurance gone from India’s side to Japan on that?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: Again, I am not sure I would put the question the way you have put the question. Japan has its security perspective, we have our security perspective. Each one of them is based on our respective national interest. We believe that there is a substantial convergence of our national interests including in ensuring security, stability, peace, prosperity and development in a shared continent. So I think that would be the basis of a meeting point of any security related conversations between us.

Question: I see a para on terrorism in the statement. If you could give us the flavor of the conversation that happened between the two Prime Ministers on terrorism, especially with respect to Pakistan?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: I think today it’s very difficult to divorce concerns on the global nature of terrorism. First of all, most responsible, insightful, experienced commentators know that terrorism is not a national state policy or should not be one, is not anymore a regional problem, it is truly a global issue.

Now when you look at what is a global issue, I think, it is very difficult to divorce this global issue from its epicenter. A lot of countries, however careful they are, eventually come to the conclusion at the end of some horrific incident that the pointers happen to be in one direction. Now in the case of Japan for example, their nationals suffered this horrific incident in Dhaka. Hence I think there is a larger realization about what is the nature of terrorism, the fact that the old national boundary based template and the orthodox analysis of countries doesn’t apply that effectively anymore. I think the thrust was really to look into the global problem, your nationals get killed, our nationals get killed. It is important for people to collaborate and that was broadly the tenor of the discussion.

Question: Maritime security looms very large in the joint statement and also connectivity corridors. My first question is South China Sea. There is talk about adherence to UNCLOS and all that, was there a specific mention of the international tribunal verdict in that statement? What is your sense of Japan’s anxiety about South China Sea?

The second is, the paradox about convergence between Act East policy and free and open Indo-Pacific strategy and Indo-Pacific occurs at lot of places. What is the reason?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: In terms of what we push for, well, you see that in the joint statement. The Chief negotiator is sitting here. I don’t think this paragraph was particularly the basis for any negotiation. There was a broad meeting of minds. I would request you to read paragraph 51 where there is a detailed reference to UNCLOS.

As you know, we regard UNCLOS as the cornerstone of the law for the seas and oceans. That is an international convention on which a vast majority of nations have agreed, signed, and ratified. So both of us feel that UNCLOS is very much the guide about what should be the policy of nations when it comes to maritime issues. I think this is a fairly straight forward affair.

Your other question about connectivity, each one of us has our own connectivity initiatives. If you look at India eastwards, we have Kaladan Multi Modal Transport initiative, we are involved in building bridges and part of the road for the trilateral highway. We have had discussions with Bangladesh and with the BBIN as a group. Even with Thailand, and trilaterally with Myanmar about how to extend road connectivity eastwards. So a country like India where development is very strong, we have a natural interest in connectivity. Connectivity opens up markets and resources to us.

What we see is really connectivity coming in as a much larger issue in our foreign policy and we are trying to do that in different ways. Some of it would be land, some of it would be sea, and some of it would be a mix. We even had a discussion about an air corridor with Afghanistan some time ago. Chabahar is another connectivity initiative that we have done.

Now the Japanese had their own set of connectivity issues, so what we are trying to say is how do we find a way of harmonizing it because the more horizontal connectivity you can get in Asia, obviously it would allow economies which are otherwise disconnected from each other to actually do much more shared activity and to support each other’s developmental activities.

This is a subject where they have a strong interest, we have a strong interest and again our interest is not limited to Japan and also theirs is not limited to India. Both of us would like to work with whatever partners we find comfortable working with in this regard. So that is the sense that we are trying to reflect.

Question: Since you talked about connectivity and economic issues sir, our Prime Minister also said that there are certain issues with Japanese investors which I understand. So what exactly are the issues which Japanese investors have raised during the meeting? Any kind of concerns that they have raised regarding economic activity or economic investment that they have raised?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: I could read you the document, except that it is about six pages. But there is a very good report, what is called the joint report of India-Japan Business Leaders Forum. If you go through that and if you go through the status of the industry issues, I think, what you will see will be the issues which were raised, suggestions by business leaders themselves in this regard.

I will give you a flavor of it, if you are looking in terms of what were the issues. Issues involving land acquisition laws, government establishment, taxation, transfer pricing taxation, service taxation, industrial complexes, standards and certification systems. Improving the overall business environment from our side, be it mutual recognition agreements, market access issues, pharmaceutical concerns, testing procedures and standards. We are today at a stage where the business community on both the sides in partnership with their respective governments, very candidly raise issues which they believe are the obstacles to the further growth of trade and investment. This was the exercise, this was broadly what Prime Minister was referring to and that was thrust of his remarks.

If I were to give you a fuller picture, I would also say that there was a lot of appreciation among Japanese businesses for Make in India and Digital India. For the ease of doing business, one fact which was universally praised was the passing of the GST. The fact that social security agreement is today being implemented, the development of Companies Act, the fact today that we can address bankruptcy issues and overall relaxation on restrictions of foreign investments, all these were appreciated.

My sense of the business event was, while people felt yes there are some challenges undeniably and we agreed and accepted that, as someone who has been dealing with Japan off and on now for 20 years, I would say it was a very positive feedback we got from the Japanese business community.

Question: Was there any discussion on NSG membership issue?

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: Yes, we appreciated the support that Japan has extended to us, both on NSG and also on APEC.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: With that this press briefing comes to a close. Thank you all.

(Concludes)



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