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Japan pact for smart Varanasi

- New chapter starts with a hug

Kyoto, Aug. 30 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan today began with a pact being signed under which his constituency Varanasi will be developed as a “smart city”, with cooperation and experience of Kyoto, the Japanese “smart city” which is a confluence of heritage and modernity.

The signing of the Partner City Affiliation MoU, which marks the launch of the smart heritage city programme, between the two countries, was overseen by Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who made a special gesture of flying here from Tokyo to meet his Indian counterpart.

The pact was initialled by India’s ambassador to Japan Deepa Wadhwa and Mayor of Kyoto Daisaku Kadokawa soon after Modi’s arrival here for his two-day first leg of his visit. Abe received Modi at the Kyoto Guest House before the signing ceremony.        

The MoU provides for cooperation in heritage conservation, city modernisation and cooperation in the fields of art, culture and academics, external affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.

This marks the launch of the smart heritage city programme between the two countries, he added. The pact is in line with Modi’s vision of building 100 smart cities across India.

Under the MoU, a detailed roadmap of cooperation will be prepared which will form the basis for further understanding. Both cities shall endeavour to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the agreed fields based on principles of equality and mutual respect and benefit and continuously exchange information and opinion in the agreed areas and cooperate in important fields.        

After the signing of the pact, Abe hosted a dinner for Modi. Before the dinner, Modi and Abe participated in a special ceremony called “Feeding the Fish”, a ritual in Japan because of the belief that it gives strength and perseverance to the fish.

Modi presented Abe books on Swami Vivekananda and two copies of the Bhagwad Gita, one in Sanskrit and the other in Japanese.

The two Prime Ministers will have a substantive summit meeting in Tokyo on Monday during which the two sides will look at ways to take the strategic and global partnership forward. Modi has a substantive agenda during the trip which he hopes will “write a new chapter” in bilateral ties.

A powerful delegation of Indian industrialists is also accompanying Modi.

However, Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Industries, has dropped out of the delegation and has sent regrets, government sources said. While the sources gave no reasons for the move, an RIL spokesperson did not offer any comments.

Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Enterprises, Essar Group head Shashi Ruia, Wipro Chairman Azim Premji and ICICI Bank chief executive Chanda Kochhar are among the industrialists who are to travel to Tokyo to participate in the meeting of the India-Japan Business Leaders’ Forum on Monday.The forum is co-chaired by of Bharat Forge chairman Baba Kalyani. The members of the delegation are expected to reach Tokyo by tomorrow afternoon.


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