Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe an outstanding leader of Japan and said that the world has lost a great visionary while he has lost a dear friend.
Remembering Abe, Modi wrote in a blog that he first met Abe in 2007, during his visit to Japan as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and right from that first meeting their friendship went beyond the trappings of office and the shackles of official protocol.
Recalling his interaction with Abe, Prime Minister Modi wrote: "Our visit to Toji temple in Kyoto, our train journey on the Shinkansen, our visit to the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, the Ganga Aarati in Kashi, the elaborate tea ceremony in Tokyo, the list of our memorable interactions is indeed long."
Prime Minister Modi said he will always cherish the singular honour of having been invited to Abe's family home in Yamanashi prefecture, nestled among the foothills of Mt. Fuji.
"Even when he was not the Prime Minister of Japan between 2007 and 2012, and more recently after 2020, our personal bond remained as strong as ever. Every meeting with Abe San was intellectually stimulating. He was always full of new ideas and invaluable insights on governance, economy, culture, foreign policy, and various other subjects," Prime Minister Modi wrote.
Modi pointed that Abe's counsel inspired him in his economic choices for Gujarat and his support was instrumental in building Gujarat's vibrant partnership with Japan.
Modi noted that it was his privilege to work with him to bring about an unprecedented transformation of the strategic partnership between India and Japan from a largely narrow, bilateral economic relationship, Abe San helped turn it into a broad, comprehensive one, which not only covered every field of national endeavour, but became pivotal for our two countries and the region's security.
"His contribution to India-Japan relations was richly recognised by the conferment upon him of the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2021," Modi wrote.
The Prime Minister mentioned that among his greatest gifts to us and his most enduring legacy, and one for which the world will always be indebted, is his foresight in recognising the changing tides and gathering storm of our time and his leadership in responding to it.
"Long before others, he, in his seminal speech to the Indian Parliament in 2007, laid the ground for the emergence of the Indo Pacific region as a contemporary political, strategic and economic reality - a region that will also shape the world in this century," Modi wrote in the blog.
Recalling his recent interaction with Abe, Modi wrote: "During my Japan visit in May this year, I had the opportunity to meet Abe San, who had just taken over as the Chair of the Japan-India Association. He was his usual self - energetic, captivating, charismatic and very witty. He had innovative ideas on how to further strengthen the India-Japan friendship. When I said goodbye to him that day, little did I imagine that it would be our final meeting."
Modi further noted that he will always be indebted for his warmth and wisdom, grace and generosity, friendship and guidance, and I will miss him dearly.
"We in India mourn his passing as one of our own, just as he embraced us with an open heart. He died doing what he loved the most - inspiring his people. His life may have been cut short tragically, but his legacy will endure forever. I extend heart-felt condolences on behalf of the people of India and on my own behalf to the people of Japan, especially to Mrs. Akie Abe and his family. Om Shanti," PM Modi added.