STATE TIMES NEWS New Delhi: Japan on Sunday said it looked at the situation in Kashmir “very carefully” and hoped that a peaceful resolution to the issue will be found through dialogue. The comments by a spokesperson of the Japanese Foreign Ministry came a day after India and Japan held their first foreign and defence ministerial dialogue under a new framework to further broadbase strategic ties. “I do not remember the ministers going into the detailed discussion on the specific issue,” Deputy Press Secretary in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Atsushi Kaifu told reporters when asked whether the Kashmir issue figured in the talks.
“But at the same time, I can say we looked at the situation there very carefully. We are aware of the long-standing differences of views with regard to Kashmir. We hope a peaceful resolution will be found through dialogue,” he said.
Asked about uncertainty over the Japan-backed bullet train project from Mumbai to Ahmedabad after a new government came to power in Maharashtra, the spokesperson said officials of both the countries are working on it and that challenges occur in large projects.
To a question on China’s growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea, Kaifu said freedom of navigation and overflight must be ensured in the region, asserting that Japan does not compromise on security and maritime issues.
“Japan and China now have a lively relationship, but we do not compromise on security and maritime issues including on the South China Sea,” he said, adding that Japan has been trying to engage China in various ways and both countries are working on a bilateral visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan next year.
On Saturday, India and Japan, under the new framework of two-plus-two dialogue, discussed a raft of strategic issues, including the threat posed to regional security by terror groups operating from Pakistan, latest developments in the disputed South China Sea and evolving security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar led the Indian delegation while the Japanese was headed by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Minister of Defence Taro Kono.
Asked whether the 5G spectrum issue figured in the talks, Kaifu said it was briefly touched upon in the context of cooperation in the digital sphere.
Beijing has been urging New Delhi to make an independent decision on allowing its telecom giant Huawei to participate in India’s 5G trial.
The US has banned Huawei, the world leader in telecom equipment and the number two smartphone producer, over concerns of security and Washington has been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the company.
On India’s decision to not join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the spokesperson said the countries of the grouping were trying to resolve New Delhi’s concerns as decided at its meeting in Bangkok last month.
Asked whether Japan was keen on carrying out development projects in Arunachal Pradesh, Kaifu said both India and his country were keen on rolling out connectivity projects in the North Eastern region.
Careful deliberations are on about possible areas of engagement, he said.
China has been opposed to any foreign-funded projects in Arunachal Pradesh as it claims the state to be part of its southern Tibet.
Kaifu said Saturday’s talks also laid the ground for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India this month for annual summit level talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Referring to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit to India few days back, he said the island nation is a key country for maritime security cooperation and that Japan was also trying to expand cooperation with it.
Talking about growing Indo-Japan ties, the Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson also said that both countries can join hands to carry out projects in African continent.
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