India's Modi arrives in Japan to boost defence, energy and trade ties

India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi (front, right) is welcomed by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the State Guest House in Kyoto, western Japan on Aug 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi (front, right) is welcomed by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the State Guest House in Kyoto, western Japan on Aug 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew into Japan Saturday on a five-day official visit as their governments seek to boost security ties and counter a increasingly assertive China.

Modi arrived at Kansai International Airport near Osaka, western Japan, by special plane for a night in the nearby ancient city of Kyoto where he was to have an unofficial dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a foreign ministry official said.

The Indian leader will visit historic sites and an academic institution in Kyoto on Sunday before moving to Tokyo for meetings on Monday with Japanese government and business leaders, including a summit with Abe, the official said.

Abe and Modi are expected to affirm cooperation in ensuring a "peaceful and stable maritime order," a Japanese official told Kyodo news agency.

Both nations hope to curb Beijing's rising activity in the East and South China seas and the Indian Ocean.

In New Delhi, the Indian premier told Japanese media in an interview on Friday that the two nations could "upgrade" their relations in the fields of defence and security.

"I see in the recent changes in Japan's defence export policies and regulations a possibility to engage in a new era of cooperation in high-end defence technology and equipment," he said.

In the summit meeting, the two premiers are likely to agree on launching a "two-plus-two" security consultative framework involving their foreign and defence ministers, according to Kyodo.

Japan already has such arrangements with the United States, Australia, Russia and France.

Abe and Modi are also expected to discuss a possible Indian purchase of Japanese-made US-2 amphibian planes.

During Modi's trip, his first bilateral visit outside South Asia since taking office in May, the two countries will seek to conclude talks for a civil nuclear pact that would allow Tokyo to export nuclear-related technology to New Delhi, Kyodo said.

On the economic front, Abe is expected to pitch Japan's high-speed bullet train technology, Kyodo said.

It added that Abe and Modi were expected to agree to jointly produce rare earths that could be exported to Japan, a move that would further reduce Japan's reliance on China for supply of such minerals.

Rare earths are vital to manufacture high-tech products such as hybrid cars and mobile phones.