New Delhi - Amid a face-off with China in Doklam, India has involved good friend Japan for a major infrastructure push in the sensitive northeast region.
To take forward the initiative, both sides announced the formation of a India-Japan Coordination Forum for Development of North East.
The coordination forum was announced on August 3 at an event here, by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region and the Embassy of Japan. It was attended by Japan's Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu and Naveen Verma, secretary in the Ministry for Development of the North-Eastern Region.
Development of India's northeast is a priority for India and a key to promote its Act East Policy. Japan has also placed a special emphasis on cooperation in the northeast for its geographical importance connecting India to Southeast Asia and historical ties.
Japan has cooperated with a variety of development projects in the northeast, ranging from connectivity infrastructure such as roads and electricity, water supply and sewage, to forest resource management and biodiversity. Furthermore, there is a great potential for people-to-people and cultural exchanges between Japan and the northeast, with Japan's historical connection with the region, a statement from the Japanese Embassy said.
The Coordination Forum would explore and expand cooperation in the Northeastern Region, and help strengthen the relationship between Japan and North East as well as that between Japan and India, it said.
The launch of the coordination forum comes in the backdrop of Chinese troops making incursions into Indian territory in the northeast, and currently in the Sikkim sector.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is slated to visit India in September, when he is likely to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the high-speed rail corridor.
In April 2017, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement with the Indian government to provide over 67 billion yen ($610 million) for Phase I of the North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project.
Phase 1 will see the development of National Highway 54 and National Highway 51 in Mizoram and Meghalaya.