BENGALURU: India gets the maximum amount of official state aid from Japan, said Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India. He was speaking at the inauguration of the 13th edition of Indo-Japan festival -- Japan Habba 2017.
Apart from the soothing bamboo flute shinobue and foot-tapping ‘taiko’ drums, there was food for thought from the keynote address of Hiramatsu.
“In 2005, India got the largest official state aid and has been on top of the list almost every year in terms of aid it gets from our government. In the last fiscal year, Ÿ350 billion was granted to India,” Hiramatsu said.
In his address the ambassador reviewed Indo-Japanese relations over a period of three decades from 1990. Reiterating what he had earlier said in an interaction with Manipal Global Education Chairman Mohandas Pai, he said Bengaluru will definitely figure in the high-speed corridor that the country proposes. He also said that bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad will be operational by 2023.
“We wish for more people to people exchange to happen to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries. We want at least 10,000 Indian citizens to visit Japan in the near future. We’re working on relaxation of visa requirements to make this easy.
We want more younger people to visit Japan. Visas procedures will be relaxed for students particularly. 13 more visa application centres in India will be opened including one in Bengaluru. I hope you visit during the cherry blossom season, which is the best,” Hiramatsu said.
Tourism, youth and cultural exchange will remain the focus of the Japanese government, he said. He also recalled how during major catastrophic events, India lent a helping hand, which the local community there greatly appreciated. “During the 2004 tsunami, 500 went missing. The National Disaster Response Force distributed blankets, biscuits and water. They spent two weeks in Okinawa island retrieving bodies. The force’s sensitivity was greatly appreciated,” he said.
Ever since Prime Minster Narendra Modi became the first Indian PM to grace Japan’s Republic Day Parade, along with his subsequent visits to the country, Japan has been looking at enhancing relationships, Hiramatsu affirmed.