Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Tokyo on Monday evening to attend the state funeral of former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who reformed Japan’s foreign policy and set forth a bold vision for a quantum leap in its ties with India.
Representatives from more than 100 countries, including more than 20 heads of state and government, are expected to attend Abe’s funeral Tuesday at Budokan, an indoor sports facility.
Prime Minister Modi will also hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Abe was shot dead three months ago during a campaign speech in the southern Japanese city of Nara.
India had announced a day of national mourning on July 9 as a mark of respect for Abe.
“I am traveling to Tokyo tonight to attend the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a dear friend and great champion of friendship between India and Japan,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted hours before he left for Tokyo.
“I will express my deepest condolences to Prime Minister Kishida and Ms Abe on behalf of all Indians. We will continue to work to further strengthen relations between India and Japan as envisioned by Abe San. @kishida230,” he said.
During a media briefing, Foreign Minister Vinay Kwatra said Modi will attend the state funeral ceremony in Budokan, followed by a greeting at Akasaka Palace, in addition to meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Abe’s wife Akie.
“The visit will be an opportunity for Prime Minister Modi to honor the memory of former Prime Minister Abe, whom he considered a close friend and champion of ties between India and Japan,” he said.
In a landmark address to the Indian Parliament in August 2007, Abe detailed his ambitious roadmap for strategic ties between India and Japan to jointly address geopolitical challenges and for the overall prosperity of Asia.
In the “Confluence of Two Seas” speech, he told Indian lawmakers that the relationship between India and Japan is blessed with the greatest potential for developing bilateral relations anywhere in the world.
Kwatra said Modi and Abe developed a personal bond through their meetings and interactions spanning more than a decade, starting with Modi’s visit to Japan in 2007 as Gujarat’s prime minister.
“PM Abe has made a significant contribution to deepening relations between India and Japan, turning a largely economic relationship into a broad, comprehensive and strategic partnership, making it critical to the security of the two countries and the region,” said Mr Kwatra.
“His famous ‘Confluence of Two Seas’ speech to the Indian Parliament in 2007 laid the groundwork for the emergence of the Indo-Pacific region as a contemporary political, strategic and economic reality,” he said.
The foreign minister said Abe’s contribution to India-Japan relations was recognized when India awarded him the prestigious Padma Vibhushan Prize in 2021.
Mr Kwatra said the duration of Modi’s visit from the time of his departure from Delhi will be approximately 12 to 16 hours.
Kishida visited India for the annual summit in March, while Modi visited Japan for the Quad Leaders’ Summit in May.
“These meetings underlined the two leaders’ commitment to deepening ties between India and Japan, particularly in the context of shaping a post-pandemic regional and global order,” Mr Kwatra said.
“Today, Japan is one of India’s most trusted and valued strategic partners. The two sides are committed to strengthening bilateral partnership in key areas of trade and investment, defense and security, climate change, health security, infrastructure, digital , industrial development, energy, critical and emerging technologies and human resources, among others,” he said.
Mr Kwatra said there is deep convergence between India and Japan in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Kishida during the upcoming visit will be an opportunity for the two leaders to reaffirm their commitment to further strengthen the special strategic and global partnership between India and Japan,” he said.
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