Indian media: Stronger ties with Japan 'not against China'

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to strengthen bilateral ties with India Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to strengthen bilateral ties with India

Media are hailing the improvement in India-Japan ties in the wake of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit.

Mr Abe was the guest of honour at India's Republic Day parade on Sunday. He is seeking to strengthen economic and political ties with the country during his three-day trip that concludes on Monday.

Mr Abe met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday as the two countries decided to expand energy partnerships, economic ties and security efforts in the Indo-Pacific region.

The leaders have "deepened the strategic ties between the two countries… and have widened the scope for defence relations", the Hindustan Times reports.

Papers are analysing Mr Abe's visit in the backdrop of China's growing clout in Asia, as both Delhi and Tokyo have a history of tensions with Beijing.

The Times of India reports that India has now invited Japan to "invest in and build overland infrastructure in… the politically sensitive north-eastern states of India, areas where Chinese investment or projects are actively discouraged".

India also appears to be supporting Japan's position in its territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea, underscoring the importance of freedom of flight and navigation, the Mint newspaper reports.

China has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and also with other southeast Asian nations in the South China Sea.

But other papers disagree, stressing that Indo-Japanese friendship cannot be seen as a setback in improving Beijing-Delhi ties.

Columnist K Shankar Bajpai, in his article in The Hindu, argues that "India and Japan can honestly say that they are not building relations in hostility against China… [though] it is right for them to plan for the eventuality of Chinese hostility".

Similarly, the Deccan Herald says that "Japan's utility should not be viewed from the limited perspective of China".

Japan played "a pivotal role in the economic prosperity of virtually the entire region through generous aid, investments and technology transfers", it says.

Crash test

Moving on to domestic news, papers are criticising the army's decision to close a case against five officers who were accused of "staged killings" of civilians in the village of Pathribal in Indian-administered Kashmir in 2005.

The army said it did not have enough evidence to press charges, though India's leading probe agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), had earlier indicted the officers and termed the killings "cold-blooded murder".

The Times of India says the decision "flies in the face" of the CBI's findings and is "bound to raise more disturbing questions" about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, a controversial law which gives the security forces the powers of search and seizure.

It also provides immunity to soldiers who kill a civilian by mistake or in "unavoidable circumstances" during an operation.

The Hindu agrees, saying that the army's "whitewash job can only increase resentment against the military in Kashmir, and feed into a sense of alienation".

The central government "should step in to undo the damage, and find a legal way to reopen the case and pave the way for a civilian trial", it argues.

Meanwhile, Indians may soon drive safer cars as the country is setting up its first facility to carry out complete crash testing of new car samples, The Times of India reports.

Cars in India currently undergo testing for only front and rear hits, but the new Chennai facility will analyse other types of collisions as well, including angular and full vehicular crashes, the report says.

And finally, a new mobile application has been unveiled to help Indians buy condoms without facing any embarrassment, a report in The Asian Age says.

Condoms ordered via the app "will be delivered discreetly and perhaps save many the blushes if they had to go to the chemist instead", the report says.

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