At the immigration hall of Kansai airport, a large yellow signage says, “stronger inspections are being made to prevent terrorism”. The reference is to greater scrutiny by the immigration officials.
A train ride to the city makes the threat more clear as all overhead bins for luggage have been blocked and a message reads, “not available”. The local high-speed trains have been sanitised and no luggage is being stored in these bins as the city is ready to host leaders from G-20 countries.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi lands on Thursday morning in Osaka — known for its innovation ecosystem, food and a laid-back culture — G-20 summit preparations are in full swing in downtown Namba shopping district.
Modi, who arrives a day before the summit begins, will have a specific ask for the G-20 leaders.
On June 8, he had proposed in Male about a “global conference” on countering terrorism, much on the lines of the summits on climate change, in a bid to plug loopholes in the fight against terrorism.
“The water is now rising above the head,” he had told Maldives parliament, urging world leaders to unite to combat the menace.
With G-20 being the apex global platform for leaders to consider such proposals, Modi is likely to make a case for countering terrorism. He is expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Donald Trump, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the next couple of days, and raise the issue of terrorism.
Modi had raised the issue in a major way in the G-20 meet in Hamburg in 2017. Equating Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad with the IS and al-Qaeda, he had suggested that government functionaries of countries which support terrorists should be barred from entering G-20 countries. It was part of the 11-point plan he proposed — as the lead speaker — at G-20 leaders’ session on “fighting terrorism” organised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel .
In Delhi on Wednesday, after expressing his appreciation to the visiting US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo for the support on zero tolerance for cross-border terrorism, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, “We have, of course, Prime Minister’s initiative for a global conference on terrorism and I am sure that is something the US would look at positively.”
The Osaka communique is going to look at terrorism in a strong manner since the Japanese are also keen after their nationals became victims of attacks perpetrated by the IS in Bangladesh and Syria.
Modi is scheduled to meet Japanese PM Shinzo Abe on Thursday, and a couple of more bilateral meetings are being worked out on the first day. He will then address the Indian community in Osaka.
Muneo Kurauchi, Managing Director at Tokyo-based Institute for International Monetary Affairs, who is in Osaka for the summit, said, “There are high expectations that Prime Minister Modi acts as an intermediary among developed and developing countries as well as among countries in a different economic system. India and Japan have strong ties. Prime Minister Abe together with Prime Minister Modi can somehow lead to a successful G20 summit.”
Meanwhile, in Osaka, where armed personnel guard every hotel housing the leaders, nightlife continues. Masahiro, a part-time student who works at a restaurant in downtown Namba, has no fears about terrorism. “We are fine here, but the government has to take care of these issues.”