Japan PM Shinzo Abe Gujarat visit LIVE: Bullet train project launched, Modi hopes service will be operational in 5 yrs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of the 508-km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail at the Sabarmati athletic ground in Ahmedabad on Thursday. They are expected to sign several agreements on strategic, financial and development cooperation.

This is the fourth summit meeting between Modi and Abe. The two leaders visited the Sabarmati Ashram on Wednesday after Abe’s arrival in Gujarat in the afternoon. The Japanese Prime Minister is on a two-day visit to Gujarat.

Here are the LIVE updates:

11:15am: Modi and Abe also laid the foundation stone for the Vadodara High Speed training institute.

10:59am: The bullet train will depart from ‘aamru’ Ahmedabad to ‘aamchi’ Mumbai. We want the common man in our country to use high-end technology:PM

10:58am: Ground-breaking of high speed rail has happened in the 70th year of India’s Independence… I hope that we see the service operational on the 75th anniversary, says Modi.

10:55am: Our railway network is so huge that the number of people travelling in trains every week in India is equal to Japan’s total population: PM

10:50am: The Gujaratis have found a friend in Japan which has given Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 % interest rate. This is a big deal for Gujaratis who celebrate even 0.5 % slash in interest rate: Modi

10:45am: High-speed corridor will emerge as single economic zone, says Modi.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the ground breaking ceremony for high-speed rail project in Ahmedabad. (AP)

10:40am: Next generation growth will happen where there are high-speed corridors, says PM Modi.

10:35am: High-speed rail project is a sign of deepening ties between the two nations, says Modi.

10:33am: PM Modi takes the stage to address the crowd in Hindi and Gujarati, welcomes Japanese counterpart to India.

10:32am: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ends his address at Sabarmati ground with ‘Dhanyavad’.

10:31am: On my next visit I hope to take a ride on the high-speed rail Shinkansen with PM Modi, says Japanese Prime Minister.

10:30am: Japan’s ‘JA’ and India’s ‘I’ when combined becomes ‘Jai’ in Hindi: Abe

10:28am:

10:26am: PM Modi is a far sighted leader. He made a decision of making New India and chose Japan as a partner, we completely support it. Japan is committed to the scheme of Make in India: Abe 10:24am: More than 100 Japanese engineers came to India and joined hands with Indian engineers for the project, says Abe.

10:22am: A powerful Japan is in the interests of India and vice-versa, says Shinzo Abe.

10:15am: India’s first high speed rail project inaugurated by PM Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad.

10:10am: We welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and express gratitude towards Japan, says Gujarat chief minister.

10:05am: With the laying of foundation stone of the bullet train, we are also laying the foundation of New India’, says Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis.

10:03am: Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also present at the inauguration event.

10:00am: Many people criticised the introduction of Rajdhani but now it is the train everyone wants to travel in, says Piyush Goyal.

9:58am: This bullet train will be a symbol of brotherhood between people of India and Japan, says railway minister Piyush Goyal at the event.

9:52am:

9:50am: Modi welcomes Abe. The two leaders inspect a model of the high-speed rail from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

9:44am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at Sabarmati athletic ground to welcome Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for the ground-breaking ceremony of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail in Ahmedabad. Abe to arrive soon.

9:00am:

8:30am: Venue of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail inauguration all set in Ahmedabad.

Check out the highlights from Day 1.

Here are six things you need to know about the visit:

1) Bullet train

India’s ambitious High Speed Rail (HSR) project is now at the take-off stage, coinciding with the visit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation stone of the 508-km long Mumbai-Ahmadabad High Speed Rail in Ahmedabad on Thursday. The cost of the project is Rs 1,10,000-crore. Once complete (scheduled in December 2023) the train which will have a top speed of 350 km per hour will reduce travel time between the two cities to around 2 hours from the existing 7 hours. The project is mostly on Japanese soft loan. But Japanese would also be happy as their high technology is under stiff competition from China and South Korea, who are trying to build similar rail corridors across the world

2) Expanding development cooperation

An ambitious agenda is on the cards at the summit, with Japan expressing its willingness to scale up its partnership in key flagship projects such as Make in India, Skill India and the Clean Ganga Mission. Most of it would be in continuation of the developmental-cooperation trajectory the two leaders had arrived at in 2015. India would benefit from Japanese technology on various sectors and now focus is on expanding the Japanese aid to India in areas such environment protection, sewage building, forest protection. Japanese are also keen on expanding the development cooperation to the north eastern parts of India

3) International cooperation/third country projects

Both the sides will also strive to enhance their international cooperation in Asian and African countries, with a sharp focus on infrastructural projects. This development comes in the wake of China aggressively pushing ahead with its one-road-one-belt connectivity project, which was boycotted by India but endorsed by its South-Asian neighbours like Sri Lanka and Nepal. “While Indian companies enjoy a large presence in Africa, Japanese companies possess advanced technologies. If we come together there, it could be a win-win situation for both countries,” Kenji Hiramatsu, the Japanese ambassador to India, told Hindustan Times in a recent interview.

Incidentally, the fact that the African Union has 54 members – one-third of the United Nations’ total membership – can even help India and Japan achieve their dream of becoming permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. China is already expanding its economic and strategic influence in the resource-rich continent. Its new military base in Djibouti – the first in the region – has raised global concerns over the Xi Jinping government’s strategic intentions for Africa.

4) Expanding strategic and military cooperation

Japan has remained a key strategic partner for India. The two countries are also part of a trilateral military exercise with US (malabar exercise). Efforts are on to expand the cooperation into joint defence production – a topic under discussion for years but needs a definite boost at the high level. There may be specific discussions on long-pending Indian proposal to buy the US-2 amphibious aircraft from Japan and joint development of military equipment. The annual Indo-Japan summit is taking place amid escalating tension in the region in the wake of the nuclear test by North Korea and China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, and Modi and Abe are expected to deliberate on them.

5) Benefit for Gujarat

An agreement between the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Gujarat Maritime Board for developing the Alang shipbuilding yard, besides the establishment of two industrial parks, will be on the table during Abe’s visit.

According to Gujarat Chief Secretary, JN Singh, 15 Japanese companies are keen to invest in Gujarat and will be signing agreements with the state government. Some of these companies include Moresco, Toyoda Gosei, Topre and Murakami.

(With inputs from agencies)

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