NEW DELHI, June 30 - In what could deliver a major boost to trade between the northeastern states and Japan, the Asian economic supergiant is keen on connecting the region directly with the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar.
According to diplomatic sources here, the aim is to improve connectivity between Asia and Africa through the Dawei SEZ � developed jointly by Japan, Thailand and Myanmar � using the free and open Indian-Pacific ocean region. The Northeast�s direct connectivity with the SEZ would also mean enhanced economic activity in the region, sources added.
Though the Northeast is a landlocked territory, the possibility of Bangladesh opening its Chittagong port is bright given the improved relations between India and Bangladesh. India is also developing the Sittwe port in Myanmar. India also entered into a framework agreement with Myanmar in April 2008 to facilitate implementation of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project.
Though sources were silent, Japan�s apparent interest in getting involved in the Northeast is to counter China, which is the region�s next door neighbour.
Meanwhile, sources said that Japan is keen to get involved in more initiatives, including �viable connectivity projects� in Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur. Currently, Japan is funding two major projects in Assam � one sewage project and the other relating to supply of clean water in Guwahati. The country is also eyeing road projects in Meghalaya and Mizoram.
Sources said Japan is also in talks with the Government of India for securing infrastructure projects in other northeastern states. �Connectivity is the main pillar of relationship with India,� sources said, adding, �We have requested the Government of India to give more projects such as development of smart cities in the Northeast.�
While addressing a seminar here recently on India-Japan convergence in the Indo-Pacific region, Japan�s ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu said that his country was willing to help India develop infrastructure in the Northeast. �The relationship between the two countries has entered a new era with cooperation spanning security, defence and technology,� he said.
�We are very happy to support Indian government projects in the Northeast � this is a very important region of India strategically as it links mainland India with Southeast Asia through Myanmar and Bangladesh,� he said.