NEW DELHI: Shinzo Abe as Japanese prime minister has always been outspoken for strong relations with India, a legacy he has “inherited”. India and Japan have a mutual interest in each other’s success, Abe repeatedly said.
Abe visited India four times during his two stints as Prime Minister of Japan.
According to former Indian Ambassador to Japan Hemant Krishan Singh, “Abe’s deep and constant commitment to forging strategic ties with India was founded on the legacy of his maternal grandfather Nobusuke Kishi (PM of Japan 1957-60). 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 outstripped Japan-US and Japan-China. ”
Abe’s visit in 2007, speech in Parliament
Abe visited India in 2007 during his first stint as Japanese prime minister when Manmohan Singh’s UPA government was in power. His speech in the Indian Parliament on 22 August was dubbed the “Confluence of the Two Seas”.

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“Our two countries have the capacity – and the responsibility – to ensure that it further widens and to cultivate and enrich these seas to become seas of the clearest transparency,” Abe said in his speech to Parliament.
In the following days, Japan began its investments in northeastern India, the first nation to do so, in a sign that the two countries were consolidating their global prospects in the face of a rising China.
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Strategic and global India-Japan partnership
A joint declaration – “Towards India Japan Strategic and Global Partnership” was signed between Manmohan Singh and Shinzo Abe in Japan, in 2006.
When Abe visited India the following year, two more documents were signed, “The Roadmap for New Dimensions to the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan” and “Enhancement of Cooperation on Environmental Protection and Energy Security”.
Bilateral India-Japan relations were upgraded to a strategic and global partnership in 2006, and back to a “special” strategic and global partnership in 2014. They have steadily progressed in the areas of investment, economic infrastructure and development, technology civilian nuclear and defense and security, “Ambassador Singh noted in an article written for the Economic Times in September 2020.


Close personal relationship with PM Modi
If the foundations for a new era in India-Japan relations were laid under Manmohan Singh’s UPA, they were taken to new heights after 2014 with Narendra Modi at the helm in India.
The two leaders had formed a friendly working relationship even earlier, when Modi visited Japan as Prime Minister of Gujarat.
In his first term as Prime Minister, Modi had deployed a single point person in the PMO to facilitate Japanese investments. Japan was also the only country to send an official serving in the Indian Ministry of Commerce. Abe used ties with India to overthrow Japan by opening defense exports and conducting military exercises.
Even after Abe left office, Prime Minister Modi visited him while he was in Japan in May of this year for the Quad’s second in-person summit.
In the photos: India-Japan relations at the time of Shinzo Abe
Abe’s visit in 2014, main guest at the Republic Day parade
On January 26, 2014, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the main guest at the 65th Republic Day parade, becoming the country’s first premier to honor the occasion.
During Abe’s visit, India extended an invitation to Japan to participate in the upcoming India-US naval exercise. Eight agreements were signed during Abe’s trip, including in the energy, telecommunications and energy sectors.
Abe’s visit in 2015, witness of Ganga Aarti in Varanasi
Abe during his 2015 visit to India accompanied Prime Minister Modi to his parliamentary constituency in Varanasi, where they witnessed the famous Aarti ganga in the historic Dashashwamedh ghat.


PM Modi and former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe are witnesses of Ganga Arati in Varanasi (archive photo)
Abe’s visit in 2017, the launch of the bullet train project
During his visit in 2017, Abe was in Modi’s hometown of Gujarat, where he laid the foundation for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. The project, a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan’s Shinkansen Technology, is expected to be completed by 2026. Japan has financed the project with a low-interest loan of Rs 88,000 crore.
Shinzo Abe also coined the phrase “Jai Japan, Jai India” during the launch of the project.
The total length of the rail link will be just over 500 km, to be covered in about 2 hours. Trains are expected to travel at speeds of 320 km / h.


For the most part, the tracks will be laid on an elevated corridor. But it will also include a 7km underwater stretch between Thane and Vasai and another 15km underground in Mumbai.
Economic cooperation grew under Abe
Economic cooperation between India and Japan has steadily grown under Abe. Direct investment from Japan grew from yen 223 billion in 2012 to yen 624 billion in 2019, before falling to yen 204 billion during the pandemic-stricken 2020.

Economic assistance in the form of loans for 2020 amounted to 356.30 billion yen, grants 5.02 billion yen and technical cooperation 8.7 billion yen.
In May of this year, a prominent Japanese diplomat said his country had a 5 trillion yen investment target for India over the next 5 years.

Relaunch the Quad
The Quad, a grouping that includes India, Japan, the United States and Australia, was born in 2007, much thanks to Abe’s efforts. Soon after, India, Japan and the United States participated in a joint military exercise off the coast of Japan.
Although Quad emphasizes the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, China’s growing assertiveness in the region is believed to be the galvanizing force.
The Quad appeared to be running out of steam in the years following its formation, partly due to the reticence of Kevin Rudd’s Australian pantry, who didn’t want to ruffle their feathers with China.
But in 2017 the geopolitics of the region had changed and the members of the Quad felt the need to revitalize their strategic cooperation.
Shinzo Abe has been credited with the Quad’s revival since 2017. His meeting with other Quad leaders in Manila on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in November of that year gave the Quad guidance for its future endeavors.
Abe awarded Padma Vibhushan
In 2021, India honored Abe with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award, for “excellence in public affairs”.
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