Abe, a true friend of India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Abe, a true friend of India

ByHT Editorial
Jul 08, 2022 10:52 PM IST

The former Japanese Prime Minister’s assassination leaves a void. His commitment to India was unparalleled

Shinzo Abe was a transformative leader. As Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister (PM), Abe provided stability to a country which had long been marred by frequent changes in government. As a staunchly nationalist leader, Abe helped his country overcome the limits imposed by a stated policy of pacifism that was a product of the Second World War, and steer it into becoming a power that was comfortable with realist tools of statecraft. As a third-generation political figure, Abe was deeply conscious of Japan’s place in the world, the emerging threats to Japan’s security in the form of a belligerent China, and Tokyo’s need to deepen closer ties not just with existing allies such as the United States (US), but branch out to embrace new friends. And as a strategist par excellence, Abe gave the world the construct of the Indo-Pacific as a common geopolitical space, and Quad as a mechanism to ensure that the rules of the game were followed in this space.

Mr Abe’s shock assassination in a country not known for political violence has sparked genuine outrage and grief. India, and the world, will truly miss him. (REUTERS) PREMIUM
Mr Abe’s shock assassination in a country not known for political violence has sparked genuine outrage and grief. India, and the world, will truly miss him. (REUTERS)

Shinzo Abe was a transformative leader. As Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister (PM), Abe provided stability to a country which had long been marred by frequent changes in government. As a staunchly nationalist leader, Abe helped his country overcome the limits imposed by a stated policy of pacifism that was a product of the Second World War, and steer it into becoming a power that was comfortable with realist tools of statecraft. As a third-generation political figure, Abe was deeply conscious of Japan’s place in the world, the emerging threats to Japan’s security in the form of a belligerent China, and Tokyo’s need to deepen closer ties not just with existing allies such as the United States (US), but branch out to embrace new friends. And as a strategist par excellence, Abe gave the world the construct of the Indo-Pacific as a common geopolitical space, and Quad as a mechanism to ensure that the rules of the game were followed in this space.

In all of this, India occupied a special place in Abe’s political imagination. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, had been the first Japanese PM to visit India in the 1950s. But even though Japan and India did not have any major bilateral differences, they weren’t close. The bipolarity imposed by the Cold War — Japan was a US ally, India was not — and then India’s nuclear tests both in 1974 and 1998 — Japan was furious given its history — added to the distance. But the end of the Cold War, India’s economic reforms, closer India-US ties, and a China which posed a direct territorial threat to both countries, brought Japan and India closer.

In this process, no leader played a more important role than Abe. In a historic speech to the Indian Parliament in 2007, he spoke of a “broader Asia”, the confluence of the Indian and Pacific oceans, and common democratic values. Abe, who met Narendra Modi Modi in 2007, struck a chord with the then Gujarat chief minister. And from 2014, the two leaders, as PMs, qualitatively transformed India-Japan ties to the extent that Japan is India’s closest friend in Asia today. It helps India meet its infrastructural, technological and developmental aspirations, shares its strategic concerns, and is a partner for the present and the future. Abe’s shock assassination in a country not known for political violence has sparked genuine outrage and grief. India, and the world, will truly miss him.

Unlock a world of Benefits with HT! From insightful newsletters to real-time news alerts and a personalized news feed – it's all here, just a click away! -Login Now!

Continue reading with HT Premium Subscription

Daily E Paper I Premium Articles I Brunch E Magazine I Daily Infographics
freemium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, February 25, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On