Exactly three years ago, Shinzo Abe had flown down to Kyototo welcome PM Narendra Modi in his first bilateral visit outside India’s immediate neighbourhood within four months of assuming office

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in India on Wednesday to attend the 12th edition of the India-Japan annual summit meeting. He received a warm welcome from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmadabad. The two leaders are meeting for the fourth time. Abe is in India on a two-day visit.

The India-Japan annual summit meeting will be held in Gandhinagar on Thursday. Modi and Abe are likely to review the progress in the multifaceted co-operation between India and Japan under the framework of their ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe Gujarat visit updates:

4.15 pm: The entire stretch from the airport till Sabarmati Ashram is lined with crowds waving Japan and India flags.

4.00 pm: It appears Shinzo Abe ditched his formal suit and quickly changed into a sky blue vest and white kurta for the roadshow. He and his wife joined PM Modi on an open-top white Gypsy which will take them to Sabarmati Ashram.

3.50 pm: This is where PM Modi will be hosting Shinzo Abe and his wife tonight.

3.30 pm: Shinzo Abe lands in Ahmadabad, gets a red carpet welcome. PM Modi received the Japanese PM at the airport and welcomed him with a warm hug. After receiving the Guard of Honour, Abe and Modi will embark on a 8 km roadshow.

3.15 pm: PM Modi has arrived in Ahmadabad. He is expected to shortly receive Shinzo Abe at the airport.

3.00 pm: Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan has put out a video on its YouTube of the high-speed rail network which is set to reduce the travel time between Ahmadabad and Mumbai from 8 hours to 2 hours.

2.36 pm: On the subject of India and Japan strengthening their strategic partnership, this what the experts are saying.

“Neither India nor Japan are shy of the strategic connotation in their expanding partnership which signifies great comfort and trust in the relationship. China’s expansion… has caused much concern and discomfort in Delhi… Japan on the other hand has a policy on ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy’ with India at its centre,” Darshana M Baruah, research analyst at Carnegie India told The Indian Express correspondent has to say.

2.00 pm: On Thursday, the two Prime Ministers will attend a function to mark the commencement of work of India’s first high-speed rail project. The train is expected to drastically reduce the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

1.30 pm: “The roadshow, airport reception, dinner at a roof-top restaurant, and post-dinner walk — they will all send out pictures of warmth between the two leaders. Optics apart, it will give the two leaders ample time to engage with each other for almost eight hours on the first day of the visit,” a top source involved in the arrangements told The Indian Express. Read more here.

1.00 pm: An India-Japan Business Plenary will be held, ANI reported. Modi and Abe are also scheduled to visit Sabarmati Ashram. They will also visit the Sidi Saiyyid Ni Jaali – a famous 16th century mosque in Ahmedabad. The two leaders are also slated to visit Dandi Kutir, the museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, at the Mahatma Mandir.

12.30 pm: Here’s some trivia. Exactly three years ago, Shinzo Abe had flown down to Kyototo welcome PM Narendra Modi in his first bilateral visit outside India’s immediate neighbourhood within four months of assuming office.

12.15 pm: Sources told The Indian Express that PM Modi is likely to go to the airport to receive Abe, which is a departure from protocol he has made only for a handful of leaders, including US President Barack Obama.

12.00 pm: The road from the airport to the city has been dotted with hoardings with photos of Abe and Modi, as well as cutouts, declaring “a strong synergy for peace and prosperity”, “welcome to the only home of Asiatic lions”, “New India, bright future”, and of course, “Welcome to India, welcome to Gujarat” — in Japanese Hiragana script.