India will always miss Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday as he attended the state funeral for the former prime minister of Japan, adding that “people of India remember Abe San very much, remember Japan very much”.
Meeting Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida — shortly after arriving in Tokyo on a brief visit Tuesday — Modi said, “We are meeting today in this hour of grief. After arriving in Japan today, I am feeling more saddened. Because the last time I came, I had a very long conversation with Abe San. And never thought that after leaving, I would have to hear such news.”
“Along with Abe San, you in the role of Foreign Minister have taken the India-Japan relationship to new heights and also expanded it further in many areas. And our friendship, the friendship of India and Japan, also played a major role in creating a global impact. And for all this, today, the people of India remember Abe San very much, remember Japan very much. India is always missing him in a way,” said Modi.
“But I am confident that under your leadership, India-Japan relations will deepen further, and scale greater heights. And I firmly believe that we will be able to play an appropriate role in finding solutions to the problems of the world,” he added.
According to a statement earlier in the day by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the two leaders had a “productive exchange of views on further deepening bilateral relations”. “The Prime Minister noted the contributions of late Prime Minister Abe in strengthening India-Japan partnership as well in conceptualizing the vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” said the MEA statement.
“They also discussed a number of regional and global issues. The leaders renewed their commitment towards further strengthening the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership, and in working together in the region and in various international groupings and institutions,” added the statement.
Before leaving for Japan, Modi said Monday he will meet Akie Abe, wife of the former prime minister of Japan. Modi had tweeted, “I will be conveying heartfelt condolences to Prime Minister Kishida and Mrs. Abe on behalf of all Indians. We will continue working to further strengthen India-Japan relations as envisioned by Abe San.”
India had announced one-day national mourning on July 9 as a mark of respect for Abe, who was shot dead while making a campaign speech three months ago.
Before departing from Delhi on Monday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra had said, “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 strengthening of India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership.”
Kwatra said, “This visit by Prime Minister Modi will be an opportunity for him to honour the memory of former Prime Minister Abe, who he considered a dear friend and a great champion of the India-Japan relationship.”
He said PM Modi and Abe had developed a “personal bond of trust and friendship” through their numerous meetings and interactions spanning over a decade beginning from his visit to Japan in 2007 as the then chief minister of Gujarat.
The Foreign Secretary said Abe made a “significant contribution” to deepening India-Japan relations, turning a largely economic relationship into a broad, comprehensive and strategic partnership, making it pivotal for the security of both our countries and also for the region’s security.
“Prime Minister Abe’s famous “Confluence of two Seas” speech in the Indian parliament in 2007, laid the ground for the emergence of the Indo-Pacific region as a contemporary political, strategic and economic reality….[his] contribution to India-Japan relations was recognized by the conferment upon him of the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2021,” said Kwatra.
The latest visit of PM Modi to Japan comes after Prime Minister Kishida came to India for the India-Japan Summit meeting earlier in March this year and Modi’s visit to Japan for the Quad leaders’ Summit later in May. Modi and Kishida had also held the bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in May.
Kwatra said Japan is one of the “most trusted and valued strategic partners of India”. “The two sides are committed to strengthening the bilateral partnership in key areas that include, trade and investment, defence and security, climate change, health security, infrastructure, digital space, industrial development, energy, and critical and emerging technologies and human resources among others. There is a deep convergence in our visions of the Indo-Pacific region and there is close cooperation between our countries on issues of international importance,” said the Foreign Secretary.