A MoU on civil nuclear energy cooperation, a pact for a $15 billion Japanese Shinkansen bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and cooperation in defence and security areas were among the 16 historic agreements signed between India and Japan as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe here on Saturday.

The visit of Abe, who is also visiting Varanasi along with Modi to witness the Ganga Aarti, also saw the two countries firm up several infrastructure and other project plans to give effect to a $35 billion Japanese ODA announced during Modi&’s meeting with Abe in 2014.

Modi, after holding restricted as well as delegation-level talks with Abe, described Abe as a “great champion of India-Japan partnership”.

“No partner has played such a decisive role in India&’s economic transformation as Japan.  No friend will matter more in realising India&’s economic dreams than Japan,” Modi said.

Abe said that Modi&’s speed of implementing policies and reforms was like his country&’s Shinkansen bullet train. He also added that the ease of doing business has become much better in India in the past one year.

Modi described the MoU on civil nuclear energy cooperation as a “shining symbol of a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership” and added that India will honour the shared commitments.

He expressed appreciation for Abe’s $12 billion package and technical assistance for the bullet train project.  The project will “become an engine of economic transformation in India”, he said.

Modi also said that the agreements on defence and security cooperation would deepen defence relations and promote defence manufacturing in India.

According to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, the MoU on civil nuclear cooperation was “a substantive agreement” marking the conclusion of negotiations, but both sides needed to sort out technical details and legal scrubbing as well as go through internal procedures before the agreement could go ahead.

Jaishankar said both sides have also inked two defence agreements on defence equipment and technology and on Japan to participate on a regular basis in the Malabar exercises alongside India and the United States.

India also agreed to extend ‘visa on arrival’ to Japanese citizens for business purpose from March 1, 2016.

On the South China Sea issue, where China has been aggressively extending its turf, rankling Japan, both sides were for freedom of navigation and overflight as well as for countries in the region to sign the Code of Conduct.

A joint statement by both sides called upon all States “to avoid unilateral actions that could lead to tensions in the region”, a tacit reference to China&’s reclamation activities in the sea.

Japan also expressed support for India&’s membership of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

“We will also strive for our rightful place in a reformed UN Security Council,” said Modi. India and Japan are members of the G4, besides Brazil and Germany, which support each other&’s bid for a permanent seat in an expanded UNSC.

Japan also welcomed India&’s push to become part of the four international export control regimes: Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group, with the aim of strengthening the international non-proliferation efforts.