From the moment Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lands at the Lal Bahadur Shastri international airport on Saturday, he will be witness to a glimpse of Indian culture and heritage during a five-hour whirlwind visit of Varanasi.
The holy city has undergone a massive cleaning and beautification drive ahead of the dignitary’s visit and is all set for “aarti diplomacy”, with a view to strengthen the bond between India and Japan.
Announcements related to memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in education, cleaning the Ganga, art and culture are expected during his visit to PM Modi’s constituency. An MoU aimed at the promotion of Japanese language in India was signed on Thursday between the Benaras Hindu University and top officials of the Japan foundation, which functions under the Japanese embassy.
An MoU to ensure the development of Buddhist circuits Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar may also be signed, something Union culture minister Dr Mahesh Sharma had hinted at during a recent visit to the city.
According to sources in the district administration, both PMs will land at the Babatpur airport at 4pm, following which they will be accorded a traditional welcome. A senior official, who did not wish to be named said, “A 70-member delegation, comprising Japanese and Indian members, will reach half-an-hour before the two PMs, who will arrive in a separate plane from Delhi. This delegation will welcome the two premiers at the airport.”