Japan bypasses China, to look at India

By agencies   |   Thursday, 06 April 2006, 07:00 Hrs
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TOKYO: Japan's foreign ministry plans to reorganize itself this year to focus more on India and check China's growing influence in Asia, a newspaper reported today.

The ministry plans to create a South Asia department after the current Parliament session ends in June, the conservative Sankei Shimbun said.

"The move is aimed at making clear the diplomatic stance of attaching importance to India, whose political and economic presence is growing while checking China, whose influence is spreading among Asian nations," the said.

The new department would coordinate diplomacy for India, Pakistan and other South Asian nations along with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it said.

The work is currently handled at separate smaller divisions under the Asian and Oceania Affairs Bureau.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the ministry was ‘considering reinforcing’ the bureau and focusing more on ASEAN and South Asia but had not decided whether to set up a South Asia department.

Japan has been seeking closer ties with India amid tense relations with China over history, energy and other issues.

While delaying funding decisions on aid to China, Japan said last week that India was the top recipient of Japanese loans for the third consecutive year, with $1.3 billion marked for New Delhi for the year to March 2007.

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