Japan is committed to improving connectivity in eastern & NE regions

India and Japan have agreed to improve the connectivity of Eastern and North Eastern States and for this purpose, Japan is involved in several projects in the region. India and Bangladesh need to work together to further improve their connectivity for hassle-free transportation of freight between the two neighbouring nations. Long queues of trucks at the transit point at Beanpole is a bottleneck for improving trade and commerce between them. These observations were made Masayuki TAGA, Consul General of Japan in Kolkata, while speaking on ‘*India-Japan Partnership for Peace & Prosperity of the Indo-Pacifics* in Kolkata on February 4. In the seminar organized by MCCI, Masayuki TAGA said that the three pillars of the relationship of the Japanese Government with India are based on (1) promotion and establishment of rule of law and freedom of navigation (2) pursuit of economic prosperity by improving physical connectivity and (3) commitment to peace and strategic concepts. In 2016, there were 1,305 Japanese companies operating in India and this had increased to 1,441 in 2018. There are 10,000 Japanese citizens living in India today. The concentration of Japanese firms and citizens is high in South, North and Western India. There are only 19 Japanese companies in West Bengal and one each in Odisha and Jharkhand; while there are 310
Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh. Although the number of Japanese companies operating in Eastern India is small, these companies are satisfied with their experience in the East. Eastern India has a strong consumer base today but it is taking time to change the old perception of the region. Potential Japanese investors will have to look at the immense economic opportunities that Bengal today
provides. Consul General TAGA has been pro-active in portraying a positive image of Bengal to Japanese companies looking to invest in the region. The entire Eastern India along with neighbouring states in East & North-East and also the neighbouring countries in South Asia have a combined population of about 500 million, which talks volumes about the region’s potential as an economic hub. India and Japan have agreed to improve connectivity of Eastern India and North Eastern States and the Government of Japan is involved in several projects in the area.  India and Bangladesh need to work together to further improve their connectivity and we still see long queues of trucks at the transit point at Benapol. Consul General TAGA said that there is a perception gap among potential Indian tourists to Japan as Japan is less expensive than Hong Kong or Singapore. Secondly, the language barriers are overstated as many Japanese can today speak English. Thirdly, food is not a major problem for Indians as there are many Indian restaurants in Tokyo. Earlier, Aakash Shah, Senior Vice President, MCCI, said that Japan is regarded as a key partner in India’s economic transformation. In the recent past, the India-Japan relationship has transformed to a partnership of great substance and purpose. Japan’s interest in India is increasing due to a variety of reasons including India’s large and growing market and its resources, especially human resources. In FY 2017-2018, India-Japan bilateral trade reached US$ 15.71 billion. Exports from Japan to India during this period were US$ 10.97 billion and imports were US$ 4.74 billion. It is encouraging to note that India has been ranked as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the survey (2018) of Japanese manufacturing companies, conducted by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). Cumulatively, since 2000, the investments to India have been around US$ 29.51 billion and Japan now ranks third among the major investors.

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