DIMAPUR, Sept 23 - Japan has accorded special importance on cooperation with the North Eastern States of India as the region is strategically and economically located between India and Southeast Asia as well as within BIMSTEC countries, said Kenko Sone, Minister, Economics, Embassy of Japan.
To encourage cultural cooperation with the region, he said, Japanese Government has initiated the �IRIS Programme� and will invite 25 young people from Manipur and Nagaland this year to Japan. Sone was speaking at the 4th Connect North East Summit that got underway under the theme �Act East through Nagaland� at NBCC Convention Centre, Kohima yesterday.
According to the diplomat, connectivity should ensure the development of all countries and use of connectivity infrastructure should be open, transparent and nonexclusive based on international standards. He further added that in addition to infrastructure development, Japan wishes to explore cooperation in business development and connect the region with other parts of the country and neighbouring nations.
Japan has been undertaking extensive cooperation in the Northeastern region, ranging from road network connectivity, energy, water supply and sewage management, forest resource management, biodiversity, to people-to-people exchange, Japanese language education and post-war reconciliation, Sone said.
Addressing the Summit, Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang stressed on people-to-people connectivity apart from other connectivity. He said the NE, except Assam, is landlocked, and therefore, air and road connectivity has become the feasible option.
Sharing his experiences while traveling on six-lane roads in Southeast Asia, Zeliang said good roads with beautiful green landscapes on both sides have reached our borders and it should be connected to mainland India by mending the bottlenecks in North East roads like the stretch from Imphal to Kohima.
He mentioned that the dreams of Look East Policy could have been materialised if there were more Summits like the North East Connectivity Summit. He said the NE has huge potential with rich forest and natural resources, high literacy rate with a vast reservoir of educated and dynamic workforce, fluent in English, and IT savvy. He also added that huge tourism potential in Nagaland lie dormant.
Zeliang said North East can easily become a major trading and economic hub connecting South East Asia and the ASEAN countries.�
He further stated that the most practical road and rail connectivity between India and Southeast Asia should run through Nagaland to Moreh border via Imphal, the route for which the Battle of Kohima was fought during the World War II.
The programme was chaired by Arun Chawla, Deputy Secretary General, FICCI.