Japan to be first stop for India PM Modi: report

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TOKYO, June 6, 2014 (AFP) – Japan could be the first foreign destination for new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese media reported Friday, suggesting the trip could happen as early as this month. Coming top of Modi’s travel itinerary would mark a diplomatic coup for Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking to boost his country’s influence on the global stage and shore up regional alliances to counter the growing strength of China.

Modi took office in May after sweeping to power on a huge popular vote and a pledge to invigorate India’s tepid economy, whose more-than-billion-strong population promises a huge potential market.

“Prime Minister Abe has invited new Prime Minister Modi to visit Japan, and the two countries are making final adjustments for that,” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Friday in Tokyo.

“On May 19, when Prime Minister Modi was still a candidate for the premiership, Prime Minister Abe had a teleconference with him and invited him to Japan,…and we are arranging dates… for his visit,” a foreign ministry official in charge of Indian affairs told AFP.

The comments came as Jiji Press reported that Modi will likely come to