Editorials

Effect of the Death of Shinzo Abe on India- Japan Ties

Author: Haya Ashraf, a student at JEMTEC School of Law, Affiliated to GGSIPU, Greater Noida

Who is Shinzo Abe

The longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan and the person who reinvented Japanese politics and diplomacy in the country’s post-World War II history is Mr. Shinzo Abe. Abe personally engaged in a close bond with India during his time in power. He has consistently displayed a unique bond with Prime Minister Modi. On July 8, 2022, an assailant shot and killed Mr. Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of Japan, when he was running for a parliamentary seat. The assassin, Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old former marine in Japan’s self-defence forces, was named by the Japanese media.

India’s Relations with Japan

Japan and India are allies who share the burden of fostering global harmony and just economic growth as well as a common desire to improve Asia’s security, stability, and prosperity. 

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Japan and India made the decision to take their bilateral relationship to a qualitatively new level.

The “Global Partnership in the 21st Century” was established after Mr. Yoshiro Mori, the Prime Minister of Japan, and Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India, resolved to do so during Mr. Mori’s historic visit to India in August 2000.

India and Japan today share a similar global perspective on peace, security, and prosperity for all based on sustainable development.

Therefore, the two countries’ shared commitment to democracy, human rights, pluralism, open societies, and the rule of law serves as the cornerstone of their international partnership.

Changes in India-Japan Relations After Shinzo Abe’s Coming

  • 2007: Quad comes into existence under the aegis of Abe and others
  • 2007: Delivers ‘Confluence of the Two Seas’ address in Indian Parliament
  • 2014: Relations upgraded to a special strategic and global partnership
  • 2015: Chief guest at 26th Jan Republic Day parade
  • 2017: Lays foundation of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project

Detailed View on the Changes in India-Japan Ties under Shinzo Abe

Personal Visits

Abe travelled to India and spoke before the Indian parliament in the first year of his presidency, which was 2006–2007. He travelled to India three times: in January 2014, December 2015, and in September 2017. No other Japanese prime leader has made as many trips to India. He was the first Japanese prime minister to attend the Republic Day parade as the chief guest in 2014.

QUAD

  • India, Japan, Australia, and the United States came together in an unofficial alliance to aid in disaster relief after the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. 
  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, was established in 2007 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. 
  • The Quad was intended to establish an Asian Arc of Democracy, but it was hampered by member disunity and rumours that it was merely an anti-China coalition. 
  • In 2017, the four nations revived the Quad, enlarging its objectives and established a framework to gradually construct a rules-based international order in response to the return of China’s threat.
  • The Quad’s first formal alliance since its resuscitation in 2017 was formed in 2020 when Australia joined the trilateral Malabar naval drills alongside India, the US, and Japan. 
  • The four nations also performed their first joint military exercises in more than ten years.

Key Quad Initiation 

Abe founded the Quad regional alliance in the 2000s and remained its stead fastest advocate throughout its most recent comeback. 

Abe spoke about his concept of the Confluence of the Two Seas when the Quad was established in 2007. 

Under Abe, Japanese diplomacy promoted the “arc of freedom and prosperity,” which is now known as the “free and open Indo-Pacific,” which is crucial to the strategic strategy known as the “spirit of the Quad.”

Nuclear Accord 

In September 2014, Prime Minister Modi of India and Mr. Abe made the decision to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a “Special Strategic and Global Partnership.” 

The collaboration developed and now includes discussions on the Indo-Pacific strategy, maritime security, bullet trains, and act east policy. 

When Modi visited Japan in 2014, the Indo-Japan nuclear agreement was still in limbo since Tokyo was apprehensive of a deal with a non-NPT member. 

Japan’s nuclear hawks were persuaded to sign the deal in 2016 by Abe.

Indo-Pacific 

Under Abe’s direction, relations between Japan and India within the Indo-Pacific architecture improved. 

Abe spoke about his concept of the Confluence of the Two Seas when the Quad was established in 2007. 

Abe’s Japan was the country that actually floated the idea of restarting the Quad in October 2017, as Chinese aggression grew in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and along India’s frontiers in the Doklam incident. However, the idea quickly disintegrated.

Cooperation in Defense

Abe announced that a meeting of the foreign and defence ministers (2+2) would take place despite the security pact being in force since 2008. 

Initial discussions focused on the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Arrangement, a form of agreement for military logistics support. 

In November 2019, the first 2+2 event was held in New Delhi. 

A unique agreement for post-War Japan was also reached in 2015 on the transfer of defence technology and apparatus.

Cooperation for Development 

During Abe’s visit in 2015, India decided to introduce the Shinkansen System (bullet train). 

Under Abe’s leadership, India and Japan also founded the Act East Forum, and they are presently engaged in Northeast initiatives that China is closely watching. 

The two countries also planned joint enterprises in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, among other areas, to counteract Beijing’s influence.

Support against China

Since 2013, information of four border standoffs between Indian and Chinese soldiers has come to light: those in April 2013, September 2014, June through August 2017, and the one that is currently ongoing as of May 2020. 

India has received cooperation from Japan under Abe in each of them. 

In the Doklam issue and the current impasse, China has come under fire from Japan for altering the status quo.

Bilateral Discussions 

Annual summits between the two nations were decided upon in 2005, and the “Global Partnership between Japan and India” was founded in 2001. Since 2012, Abe has accelerated the pace of relations. 

On his first visit to India as prime minister in August 2007, Abe delivered the now-famous “Confluence of the Two Seas” speech, which laid the foundation for his idea of the Indo-Pacific. 

This idea has become one of the cornerstones of India-Japan ties.

Shinzo Abe’s love for India

There is no doubt that Abe had a great love for India and that he had a very strong and close relationship with Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India. Abe will be irreplaceable in this way. He served as the key pillar for Japan’s relations with India, which he considered important in and of itself rather than as an indication of their respective links to the US. It is only natural that India honoured him with the coveted Padma Bhushan award in 2021 in recognition of his contributions. On July 9, India also proclaimed a day of national mourning, and Prime Minister Modi wrote a heartfelt public eulogy for his close friend Shinzo Abe.

Abe’s steadfast dedication to establishing strategic ties with India was inspired by the legacy of his maternal grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who served as prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960. Kishi was deeply moved by India’s efforts to legitimize post-war Japan, including its status as the first Asian nation to accept Japan’s aid for overseas development in 1957.

In his 2007 book ‘Towards a Beautiful Country: My Vision for Japan’, Abe wrote that it would “not be a surprise if, in another decade, Japan-India relations overtake Japan-US and Japan-China ties.”

India and Japan have an interest in one another’s success, as Abe often stated. With their shared liberal democratic values, lack of old grudges, and expanding strategic convergences, India and Japan form the only other significant power equation in Asia. Hopefully, during this century, Abe’s significant legacy will continue to influence Asian stability, security, and prosperity. Together, Japan and India can achieve their full potential, widen their strategic range, and assume their proper places as dominant nations in Asia and the Indo-Pacific. That was ultimately Abe’s top priority.

Relationship between the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe

As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi travelled to Japan frequently. As Prime Minister, he chose Japan for his first official visit outside of the region in September 2014. The bilateral relationship will now be a “Special Strategic and Global Partnership,” as agreed upon by Modi and Abe. The partnership evolved and covered topics like act east policy, maritime security, bullet trains, quality infrastructure, and Indo-Pacific strategy.

The Indo- Japan nuclear agreement was still in limbo when Modi visited Japan in 2014 because Tokyo was wary of a deal with a non-NPT member. In 2016, the agreement was signed after Abe’s administration persuaded Japan’s nuclear hawks to do so. India’s agreements with US and French nuclear firms which were either owned by or held investments in Japanese firms were dependent on the pact.

After losing a Great Friend  Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed his grief by writing a note on Twitter saying “shocked and saddened beyond words” at the tragic news about one of his “dearest friends.” “He was a towering global statesman, an outstanding leader and a remarkable administrator,”.“He dedicated his life to making Japan and the world a better place.”

India would mark a day of national mourning on Saturday “as a mark of our deepest respect,”.

Impact of Abe’s death on India

India has lost a good Friend Prime Minister Abe. Prime minister Abe has played a great role in the transformation of India-Japan ties. He was a dear friend to Indian Prime Minister Modi and he said Abe was a great champion of India-Japan friendship.

“Among his greatest gifts to us and his most enduring legacy and one for which the world will always be thankful, is his insight in detecting the changing tides and gathering storm of our times and his leadership in responding to it,” said Modi in a blog post titled “My Friend, Abe San.” 

He was decisive in proposing the most benevolent terms for the High-Speed Rail in India and resolute in pursuing the civil nuclear agreement with India, which was extremely tough for his country. 

The Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, the Quad, the Asean-led forums, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure all benefited from his contributions, according to Prime Minister Modi.

 For India Abe’s death is definitely going to be a setback.

He believed that India will be an upcoming power in the world and had always supported India and had played one of the major roles in the development of Indian infrastructure like giving loans for bullet trains, Delhi metro, 1500km long Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project, Kashi Vishwanath project, North-east development projects, Smart Cities plan.

The world has lost a brilliant leader, and India has lost one of its well-wishers. Shinzo Abe comes from a family of politicians. His father was the finance minister, while his grandfather served as prime minister of Japan. Shinzo served as PM four times and was Japan’s youngest prime minister. Shinzo Abe cherished India and Indians, and he enthusiastically backed Narendra Modi’s plans to create a New India. Abe was the only Japanese Prime Minister to visit India several times.

Conclusion

Abe personally engaged in the solid connection that existed between India and him. Additionally, they got along great. He has long been “passionate” about bringing democratic countries together to establish a global strategic framework in addition to deepening bilateral ties with India. The Indian government’s announcement that Abe will receive the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian accolade, in January 2021 was entirely appropriate.

The speech Abe gave to the Indian Parliament on August 22, 2007, in which he included India in a “broader Asia” and predicted the dynamic coupling of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, will likely live on in people’s memories the most. This was essentially a premonition of the Indo-development Pacific a decade later.

His death will be a major setback for the country and the India-Japan ties.


References

https://mea.gov.in/Portal/ForeignRelation/India-Japan_Relations.pdf

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