PM Manmohan Singh leaves for Japan next week

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SummaryA high-speed railway project, a bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation pact and signing of infrastructure projects deals worth $15 billion, will be on the table for discussions when Prime minister Manmohan Singh visits Japan next week.

A high-speed railway project, a bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation pact and signing of infrastructure projects deals worth $15 billion, will be on the table for discussions when Prime minister Manmohan Singh visits Japan next week.

Singh's trip was originally scheduled for last November and was set to include meetings with then-Japanese premier Yoshihiko Noda but it had to be postponed after a general election was called in Japan.

According to an official note from the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Singh will meet his counterpart the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe from May 27-30. The two leaders plan to hold a summit on May 29.

During the summit level talks, Abe is expected to call for strengthening governmental cooperation aimed at exporting Japan's shinkansen bullet train technology to India as part of Tokyo's efforts to promote economic diplomacy.

Singh who is expected to stay in Tokyo for two days instead of one and will besides meeting all Japanese leaders cutting across the party lines, he will also meet with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko during the trip, his first since October 2010 for a summit with then Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

They are expected to discuss the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries and Japan's possible export of nuclear power technologies to India. Negotiations for the accord have stalled since Japan was struck by a powerful earthquake in March 2011 and the subsequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo.

Abe has for long been advocating further expansion of ties with India and had surprised many in his previous tenure as the prime minister of that country in 2006 when he predicted that Japan-India relations had the potential to overtake Japan-US and Japan-China ties. His deputy Prime minister Taro Aso, has reportedly recalled at a public gathering in Tokyo last Saturday Abe's speech in Indian Parliament then in which he had said that a strong Japan was in the best interest of India and a strong India was in the best interest of Japan.

In his speech recently, Aso also called for more contact between the navies of the two countries to take maritime cooperation to a much higher level.

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