PM Modi leaves for Japan’s Shinzo Abe’s state funeral, will also meet PM Kishida

Updated on Sep 26, 2022 07:15 PM IST

In two tweets about his Japan visit to attend ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s funeral, PM Narendra Modi described Abe as “a dear friend” and “a great champion of India-Japan friendship”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about this quick visit to Japan late on Monday to participate in the state funeral of former PM Shinzo Abe. (Bloomberg File Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about this quick visit to Japan late on Monday to participate in the state funeral of former PM Shinzo Abe. (Bloomberg File Photo)

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo on Tuesday to attend the funeral of former prime minister Shinzo Abe will include a brief bilateral meeting with Japanese premier Fumio Kishida.

Modi viewed Abe as a “very dear friend” and the visit will be an opportunity to convey his condolences in person to Japan, its leadership and the widow of the former prime minister, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra told a news briefing on Monday.

Modi will attend Abe’s state funeral at the Budokan, a famous indoor arena originally built for the 1964 Olympics, and this will be followed by a greeting occasion at Akasaka Palace, where Kishida and Mrs Akie Abe are expected to be present.

The funeral is set to be attended by representatives from more than 100 countries, including more than 20 heads of state and government. No other bilateral meetings have been scheduled for Modi during the visit that is expected to last about 16 hours, Kwatra said.

During their brief bilateral meeting, Modi and Kishida are expected to make a “quick overview and assessment of the overall relationship, its current status, its trajectory, its progress and the measures both need to take to progress it further”, Kwatra said.

The two leaders will “reaffirm their commitment to strong efforts that stakeholders on both sides continue to make to promote the relationship”, he added.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was assassinated during an election campaign meeting on July 8. India announced one day of national mourning on July 9 as a mark of respect for Abe.

The visit will also be an opportunity for Modi to honour the memory of Abe, who he considered a “great champion of India-Japan ties”, Kwatra said. The two leaders had developed a “personal bond” through their meetings and interactions spanning more than a decade, beginning with Modi’s visit to Japan in 2007 as chief minister of Gujarat, he said.

Abe and Modi elevated bilateral relations to the status of a special strategic and global partnership in 2014. Abe also made significant contributions to deepening India-Japan relations, “turning a largely economic relationship into a broad, comprehensive and strategic partnership, making it pivotal for the two countries’ and region’s security”, Kwatra said.

The “Confluence of Two Seas” speech by Abe in India’s Parliament in 2007 laid the ground for the emergence of the Indo-Pacific region as a “contemporary political, strategic, and economic reality”, and his contributions to bilateral relations were recognised when the Padma Vibhushan was conferred on him in 2021.

Modi’s trip to Japan comes after Kishida’s visit to India for the bilateral summit in March, and Modi’s visit to Japan for the Quad Leaders’ Summit in May. Modi and Kishida also held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Quad meet. These meetings underscored the two leaders’ commitment to deepen India-Japan ties, especially in “the context of shaping a post-pandemic regional and global order”, Kwatra said.

India and Japan are currently marking the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the two sides are committed to strengthening cooperation in trade, investment, defence and security, climate change, health security, infrastructure, energy and emerging technologies.

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