Shinzo Abe considered Manmohan Singh a mentor, Narendra Modi a friend: Japan leader’s advi...

Shinzo Abe considered Manmohan Singh a mentor, Narendra Modi a friend: Japan leader’s advisor

Ahead of Jaishankar-Rajnath meeting in Tokyo, Abe’s advisor and speech writer calls India an “ideal partner”

Slain Japanese leader Shinzo Abe considered former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a “mentor”, and considered Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “close friend and partner”, said the former Japanese Prime Minister’s special advisor Tomohiko Taniguchi, and regretted not being able to travel to India in 2019. Speaking to The Hindu during a visit to Delhi last week, Mr. Taniguchi, who as Mr. Abe’s speech-writer, had helped draft his famous “confluence of two seas” speech in 2007, also disclosed that Mr. Shinzo Abe had planned to deliver a deeply emotional speech during his scheduled visit to Manipur in 2019, at the memorial to the 1944 Battle of Imphal, one of the biggest battles during the Second World War.

“Over time, Shinzo Abe looked up to Manmohan Singh and he respected Prime Minister Singh… he said Manmohan Singh is one of the few people, [he] could call [his] mentor.” Mr. Taniguchi said, adding that the two men met often even after Mr. Abe’s first term as PM in 2007, when he had stepped down over a debilitating illness, and again when Mr. Abe returned as Prime Minister (2012-2020). He said that that Mr. Abe’s relationship with Prime Minister Modi was also “unique”.

“India a long term bet”

“[Abe] was in favour of those gutsy go-getting and gung ho sort of people’’. One of the prime examples is Bibi [Benjamin] Netanyahu, with whom he developed a very close bond…he sensed that [Modi] is a man that he could continue to work with as a close friend and partner. “

India-Japan relations entered a more intensive era after Mr. Abe’s ascent to power in 2006 and 2012, with the launch of the annual summits between them, the creation of the Quad and its revival in 2017, and the launch of the “2+2 ministerial” meetings as well, during his tenure, the longest for any Japanese Prime Minister. Ahead of the 2+2 Ministerial expected this week, for which External Affairs Minister S.Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh are travelling to Tokyo, Mr. Taniguchi said that Japan sees India as a “long term” bet for ties as a “like-minded” nation. When asked about New Delhi’s stand on the Russia-Ukraine war and China’s aggressive exercises around Taiwan, where India did not join the other Quad members, as well as the ongoing “Vostok” military exercises with Russia and China would affect the India-Japan relationship, Mr. Taniguchi said that Mr. Abe believed India was an “ideal partner” given its security concerns.

“Japan is surrounded by 3 hostile nuclear powers: Russia, North Korea, China….Japan needs to secure its national security by allying itself with like-minded partner nations. India remains an ideal partner for Japan and will be so in a long time to come,” he said adding that India would soon outnumber China in terms of population; is a strong competitor on technology, one of the biggest economies; and “most importantly”, a democracy, he added.

Mr. Taniguchi acknowledged however, that many of the India-Japan projects initiated during Mr. Abe’s tenure had moved more slowly than he hoped- including the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed rail, which missed its 2022 deadline, the implementation of the civil nuclear deal, and the lack of progress in the talks for India to buy the Japanese US-2 amphibian.

Speaking about Mr. Abe’s plans to help develop India’s North-Eastern region, Mr. Taniguchi said that his lasting regret was that his visit to Guwahati and Imphal for the India-Japan annual summit with Mr. Modi in December 2019 was cancelled at the last minute. After violent protests broke out in Assam over the government’s decision to bring the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), both New Delhi and Tokyo decided to postpone the visit. However, the visit could never be rescheduled as the COVID pandemic broke out, and then in August 2020, Mr. Abe announced that he was stepping down as his earlier illness, ulcerative colitis, had resurfaced. In July 2022 he was assassinated during a campaign rally. Mr. Taniguchi said Mr. Abe had been keen on visiting Manipur, and the site of one of the bloodiest battles during the Second World War, where more than 50,000 Japanese soldiers and members of the Azad Hind Fauj under Subhash Chandra Bose and Shahnawaz Khan had died fighting the British Army and Indian soldiers that were part of the Allied forces. Mr. Taniguchi said he had prepared a speech for Mr. Abe, who wanted “to deeply appreciate the help and support that local people around Manipur have never ceased to give to the Japanese who wished to recover bones and remnants of the fallen soldiers, and to pay homage to the fallen,” Mr. Taniguchi, now a professor at Japan’s Keio University, told The Hindu.

“Japan is surrounded by 3 hostile nuclear powers: Russia, North Korea, China….Japan needs to secure its national security by allying itself with like-minded partner nations”Tomohiko TaniguchiJapanese Prime Minister’s Special Advisor 

Your email address will not be published.