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India willing, Japan happy to help

New Delhi, Jan. 6: Japan has offered to transfer technology for establishing a tsunami early warning centre and to share with Delhi its experience of dealing with such disasters.

It has also expressed willingness to step up concessional loan assistance to India if the Centre makes such a request.

Japanese ambassador Yasukuni Enoki said: 'We understand and respect the basic position of the Indian government not to receive any assistance from foreign governments.' But he added that if the Indian government changes its policy or asks for foreign assistance, Japan will be 'very happy' to cooperate.

On the offer of transfer of technology, Enoki said: 'This is not in conflict with the Government of India's basic position. We can have good room to work together.'

The ambassador said he has had preliminary discussions with the Prime Minister's Office and that India has expressed interest in the proposal. More discussions are needed with officials in the home ministry and other departments before the proposal can be put in motion, he added.

An Indian team led by A.K. Rastogi, secretary, disaster management, in the home ministry, will participate in the world conference on disaster reduction being organised by Japan in Kobe between January 18 and 22.

Three senior ministers from Japan will visit India next week, indicating the growing ties between the two countries. They include Shoichi Nakawaga, the minister for economy, trade and industry, Sadakazu Tanigaki, the finance minister, and Heizo Takenaka, the minister for economic and fiscal policy and privatisation of postal services. The vice-minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Takayoshi Tsudena, will also be here around the same time.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will also visit India this year. The dates of his visit are yet to be finalised by the two sides. Koizumi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the India-Asean Summit in Laos in November last year. The two are expected to meet again at other international fora in the coming months.

Enoki said the yearly concessional loan from Japan to India could be increased on request. Japan has decided to extend a $500-million grant as emergency assistance to tsunami-affected countries

Tokyo has sent relief teams to affected areas and will make further contribution by utilising its fire department helicopters and personnel. It will also consider pressing into service its self-defence force, aircraft, naval vessels and personnel.

'Japan has no intention to compete with other donor countries but is ready to provide the maximum possible assistance,' the ambassador said.

The Japanese community in India will start a fund-raising campaign from tomorrow for the tsunami victims.

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