Japanese Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu on Wednesday said that Japan is serious about boosting connectivity in India’s north-eastern states by building roads and bridges.
“We aim to support the development of this region by connecting not only the intra-regional links within the north-east, but also the links between the north-east and neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar,” he said.
The Japanese diplomat, who was addressing the 3rd India International Cherry Blossom Festival in this mountainous state capital of Meghalaya, said that the road connectivity will make India’s north-east a gateway to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and will also boost the economy of the states.
“North-east is where our shared vision crystallises. The north-east as a priority is evidenced by the ‘Japan-India Act East Forum’. This is a unique forum in which we test various ideas for further development of the north-east and put them into action,” Hiramatsu said.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who inaugurated the Cherry Blossom Festival 2018, said, “This tree (cherry tree) binds the two countries and makes Meghalaya and Japan the home of a unique benediction of nature.”
He said that India-Japan collaboration has taken a leap forward because of the efforts that have been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, and also stated that the festival represents one of the ways of strengthening that relationship further.
“The significance of the festival goes beyond the blooming of cherry trees as it also creates a space for mutual exchange of culture and ideas… The festival will provide a mosaic of sports, culture and culinary delights of Meghalaya, India’s north-east and Japan,” Sangma said.
Noting that the festival will boost tourism not just in Meghalaya but in the entire north-east, the Chief Minister hoped that the state will have more visitors this year.