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With PM Modi in attendance, Japan recalls Abe’s pivotal speech in India during funeral ceremony

PM Narendra Modi paying homage at the State Funeral ceremony of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Late Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo, on Tuesday (Images courtesy: PIB)

Crediting him for creating multi-layered diplomacy that forged good relations with every part of the world – including India, Australia, and the United States – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday that his predecessor late Shinzo Abe could have been a compass that showed the future of Japan and the world for the next 10 or 20 years.

Delivering a memorial address at the state funeral of former Prime Minister at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo – which was attended by 700 foreign guests including PM Narendra Modi – Kishida recalled Abe’s much-famous speech in the Indian parliament in 2007 where he preached the “confluence of the two seas” and came up with the concept of the “Indo-Pacific” for the first time.

“All of these are the foundations of today,” said the Japanese PM as the world leaders, thousands gathered inside and outside the massive Olympic facility in the Japanese capital, and millions glued to their television sets all over the world watching the live coverage sat listening intently.

“In addition to dramatically strengthening relations with the United States and dramatically strengthening the deterrence of Japan and the United States, based on long-held assertions, we have enhanced cooperation with India and Australia, creating a Quad framework,” he added.

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister but Kishida mentioned that history will remember him more for his achievements than the length of tenure in the country’s constitutional history.

A 19-gun salute was given in honour of the slain leader as his cremated remains were brought to the venue from his local home by his wife Akie. A video on Abe’s life was played with Kishida and former PM Yoshihide Suga delivering the memorial addresses.

PM Modi, who regarded Abe as a “close friend” and had said that his death had caused “unbearable pain” to him besides being an “irreparable loss” to both the countries, paid respect to the former premier by laying flowers.

It was due to Abe’s efforts that the India-Japan relationship was elevated to the level of a Special Strategic and Global Partnership. A large number of milestone projects between India and Japan were initiated during his tenure as the Prime Minister of Japan.

India, which had observed one-day national mourning on July 9, also awarded the country’s second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, to Abe which was a testament to the respect and warmth that he enjoyed in India.

“Through the projects that are being undertaken with the help of Japan, Mr Abe will remain in the hearts of Indians for years to come,” said PM Modi a few weeks ago.

Earlier in the day, PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with Kishida where both leaders noted the contributions of Abe in strengthening the India-Japan partnership as well as conceptualizing the vision of a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

“The two leaders had a productive exchange of views on further deepening bilateral relations. 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,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.

The funeral ceremony at Budokan will be followed by a greeting occasion at the Akasaka palace,  a state guest house in Tokyo. While representatives from over a hundred countries, including more than 20 Heads of State and Heads of Government are attending the funeral ceremony, it is expected that PM Modi will not hold any other bilateral meeting during his 12-16 hour stay in the Japanese capital.

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