The meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 29 in Tokyo resulted in a commitment from Japan to increase its infrastructural assistance to India. Gateway House’s Gautam Kagalwala talks to Soichi Yamamoto, who is researching on the infrastructure industry in India as a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, U.S. Prior to that, Yamamoto worked for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Government of Japan, as a Deputy Director. The views he expresses in this interview are his own.
Q: What is Japan’s role in the creation of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the Dedicated Freight Corridor?
The Japanese role in the DMIC is not only facilitating advanced infrastructure within this region, but also creating industries and jobs, which will reduce India’s overall trade deficit by expanding export. As mentioned in the joint statement of our prime ministers, it is important to accelerate the implementation of the seawater desalination project at Dahej, Gujarat, the Model Solar Project in Neemrana, Rajasthan, and the gas-fired independent power producer (IPP) project in Maharashtra. Japanese companies can contribute to these projects with their excellent technologies, and operation and maintenance (O&M) know-how.
Q: What are your views about the present condition of infrastructure in India’s metropolitan cities? How can Japan help India in the creation of new cities?
Japanese manufacturing companies are of the view that inadequate infrastructure is the most serious problem facing Indian businesses – we have been saying this for five consecutive years since 2008 in questionnaires of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). Japanese technologies and O&M know-how can definitely improve this situation and boost the Indian economy. When lifecycle cost is taken into consideration, Japanese infrastructure solutions can be even more reasonable than others.
Q: As part of the Japan-India Investment Promotion initiative, what are some of the projects for 2013 under JETRO and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)?
JETRO helps Japanese companies to expand their businesses to India by consulting or matchmaking. NEDO is conducting demonstration experiments of advanced infrastructure technologies in India. I think they are critically important for accelerating implementation of new infrastructures.
Q: How can India and Japan collaborate on nuclear equipment and technology?
As mentioned in the recent joint statement between our prime ministers, civil nuclear cooperation between our countries is very important, especially in terms of nuclear safety. I hope the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy is agreed on as soon as possible.
Q: What kind of infrastructure projects can India and Japan work on together in Africa?
I’m not sure about specific infrastructure projects our countries can jointly work on in Africa, but I believe there is much room for such collaboration. For example, Japanese direct investment to India can facilitate manufacturing infrastructure-related products in India. These can be exported to Africa or other regions and offer high quality as well as a competitive price.
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