Japan, India agree to conduct naval drill with U.S.

Japan and India agreed Saturday to carry out a trilateral naval drill with the United States, a move apparently aimed at curbing China's growing territorial claims in the South and East China seas with coercive measures.

In a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a total of around 200 billion yen, or $2 billion, in loans to India mainly to help finance a project to expand the subway system in the capital.

It will be the first time for Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force to take part in a joint U.S.-India naval exercise since the Japanese government purchased three of the five main islands in the Senkaku group from a private Japanese owner in 2012. The uninhabited chain in the East China Sea is administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

With China's rising maritime activities in mind, Abe and Singh stressed their commitment to ensuring the freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and the peaceful settlement of conflicts in line with the principle of international law including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, according to a joint statement issued after the meeting.

The two leaders affirmed maritime cooperation such as continuation of a Japan-India naval drill and a planned working-level meeting in March for exporting Japan's US-2 amphibious planes for search and rescue purposes to India, the statement said.

"We hope to strengthen security ties with India," Abe said in a joint news conference with Singh.

To bolster bilateral security cooperation, the leaders agreed to launch regular consultations between Shotaro Yachi, head of the secretariat of Japan's new National Security Council, and his Indian counterpart.

On the economic front, Abe and Singh agreed to complete by July next year a joint survey on the possible introduction of Japan's shinkansen bullet train technology for a high-speed train project between Mumbai and Ahmadabad in western India, according to the statement.

The leaders welcomed the expansion this month of the size of a bilateral currency swap scheme to $50 billion from $15 billion in a move to strengthen financial cooperation between the two countries and help ensure stability in financial markets of emerging economies.

The leaders, however, stopped short of concluding bilateral negotiations for an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which would enable Japan to export reactors to India where the growing economy requires a stable supply of energy.

They agreed to continue the negotiations for an early conclusion.

Abe and Singh agreed that India will promote deregulation and take other business facilitation measures so as to increase Japanese investment in the country.

As of the end of 2013, the number of Japanese companies investing in India totaled 1,072, up from 550 in 2008, according to Japanese government data.

Abe told Singh that Japan will ease visa issuance requirements for Indian visitors to the country. Singh expressed appreciation for such a measure.

A group of Japanese business leaders have accompanied Abe on his three-day visit to New Delhi through Monday morning, apparently aiming to promote Japanese technologies in India to build large infrastructure such as transportation systems and facilities for solar and wind power generation.

Abe last visited India in 2007 during his first stint as prime minister. He took office for the second time in December 2012.