Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida left for India on Sunday for talks with his counterpart Narendra Modi, as Tokyo holds this year's presidency of the Group of Seven nations.
During his three-day visit through Tuesday to India, chair of the Group of 20 economies for 2023, Kishida is expected to agree with Modi that Tokyo and New Delhi will work together more closely to tackle issues stemming from Russia's war in Ukraine.
In a speech on Monday, Kishida is also likely to announce a new plan to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, a Japan-led initiative aimed at curbing China's growing regional assertiveness, according to a senior government official.
India -- a member of the Quad, a four-way security framework involving the United States and Australia -- has emerged as a key member of the "Global South," a term that collectively refers to developing nations in areas such as Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Kishida has been eager to deepen ties with such countries to pave the way for the success of the G-7 in-person summit scheduled for May in Japan's western city of Hiroshima, which was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in World War II.
Amid mounting fears that Russia might use an atomic device against Ukraine in the ongoing war, Kishida has pledged to pitch his vision of a world without nuclear weapons at the G-7 meeting.
Along with the G-7 -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union -- the G-20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.
Kishida's trip to India comes just weeks after Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi skipped a gathering of the G-20's top diplomats held for two days earlier this month in New Delhi.
Hayashi's absence triggered a backlash from some Indian media, which said it could cast a shadow over bilateral relations.
Kishida is expected to invite Modi to participate in the G-7 summit, while trying to confirm that Japan and India will continue supporting Ukraine. The eastern European nation has been under attack by Russia since February 2022.
In tandem with other G-7 members, Japan has bolstered economic sanctions on Russia, but New Delhi has refrained from implementing punitive steps against Moscow as India is highly dependent on the resource-rich country for military and energy supplies.