Virtually ignoring China’s repeated claim over Arunachal Pradesh, Japan has decided to step up its cooperation with India for undertaking infrastructure and connectivity projects in India’s North-Eastern states.

Tokyo evinced its keenness to speed up various projects at the 2nd meeting of “India-Japan Act East Forum” held under the co-chairmanship of Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Japanese Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu.

The forum, launched in December last year, aims to further expand the cooperation between the two countries and to strengthen the relationship between Japan and North East. In this regard, the forum discusses cooperation in various fields and promotes Japan’s cooperation in the region.

The forum’s goal is to explore and expand the role of Japan in spearheading infrastructure and connectivity projects in this peripheral area that borders China, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

It is noteworthy that China has laid claim over the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The forum comprises representatives of the Embassy of Japan and other government-affiliated Japanese organisations based in New Delhi from Japan’s side; the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and other relevant government offices as well as State governments of the North-Eastern states from India’s side.

In the meeting held on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Gokhale expressed his expectations for productive discussions and concretisation of cooperation as the assistance to North-East was a priority, especially in terms of connectivity.

The Japanese envoy emphasised the breadth of cooperation in the North-East, ranging from connectivity to people-to-people exchanges and the need to come up with concrete projects.

As a result of the meeting, the future orientation of cooperation between the two countries in North-East was confirmed. The projects to be undertaken range from road and bridge connectivity to forest management. A new initiative to utilise bamboo, which is abundant in the region, was also considered.

The forum’s meeting coincided with Japan’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Shotaro Yachi meeting his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval in New Delhi to discuss bilateral issues ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo later this year for the annual India-Japan Summit.