New Delhi: Strengthening bilateral ties, India and Japan are forging ahead with collaboration on political, security and economic issues, besides regional cooperation, visiting Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Wednesday.

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"I am convinced that we need to strengthen the partnership. India and Japan are stepping up their cooperation in areas like political, security and economic fields and also regional areas," Noda said here at a luncheon meeting with Indian chambers CII, FICCI and Assocham.

The Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the two countries that was operationalised in August will further enhance the India-Japan economic relationship, he said.

Noda added that about 420 Japanese companies present in India have created over 1.50 lakh jobs in the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India and Japan should work together as the world is facing economic uncertainty.

He said there are huge opportunities available in India for Japanese businessmen in sectors like infrastructure, including ports and airports, and agriculture.

"We are setting up about 46 agro-processing zones (in India). This is also one area where Japanese knowledge and experience could be of great help to India," Sharma said.

He said "we are very much on course" to achieve the bilateral trade target of USD 25 billion by 2014.

Sharma further said the Japanese government has committed USD 4.5 billion for the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project.

The project is aimed at creating world-class industrial infrastructure along the Delhi-Mumbai Rail Freight Corridor, which is under implementation.  India-Japan bilateral trade saw a robust increase of 24
percent to USD 13.2 billion during January-September period on the back of the mutual free trade agreement.

Under the FTA, officially known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the two countries have slashed duties on large number of items of trade.

As a significant concession under the pact, Japan has given access to Indian pharmaceutical products.

Noda arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday for a three-day visit.

Japan keen to ink nuke-deal with India

Notwithstanding the Fukushima incident, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Wednesday made it clear that his country was keen on having a civil nuclear deal with India, hoping that it will be finalised soon.

Noda, who is on an official visit to India, welcomed the progress in talks with India on a bilateral civil nuclear deal and expressed the hope that it will be finalised soon.

He hailed India's self-imposed moratorium on no-first use of nuclear weapons and hoped this stance would continue.

"Japan is the only country which was attacked by a nuclear weapon," he said, adding that its safe use was the tenet for his country's relations with other nations.

In reply to a question at a programme organised by Indian Council of World Affairs, Noda said, "At the working level, discussions on the civil nuclear deal have proceeded in the right direction. I welcome this progress. I am hopeful it will be achieved."

He stated that he had discussed this issue with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. The latter was present on the occasion.

Noda's comments assume significance as there have been questions on the fate of the proposed deal, which is under negotiation, after the radiation scare in Fukushima when Tsunami hit a nuclear plant there on March 11.

Noda said the knowledge and lessons drawn from the damage to Fukushima nuclear plant- during the Tsunami in Japan- would be shared by the two countries to prevent such incidents in future.

(Agencies)