Updated: Sep 1, 2022
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
The Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) mourns the passing of Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo ABE. His immense contribution and efforts elevated Indo-Japan relations to the level of a Special Strategic and Global Partnership.
The institutional innovations that ABE spearheaded— the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the QUAD are likely to shape Asia’s geopolitical landscape for a long time to come. Shinzo ABE’s legacy has been even more consequential and far-sighted in the security arena. He proposed the QUAD as a regional security forum back in 2007, during his brief first stint as Japan’s prime minister.
ABE who loved India, visited India four times and on one occasion was even invited to be the Chief guest on 2018 Republic Day. He sincerely wanted Japan-India economic ties to grow and foresaw the potential of Indo-Japanese economic ties. In his commitment to engaging with the Indian civil society, PM Shinzo ABE in 2013 met Art of Living Founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during his visit to Tokyo and appreciated the work of The Art of Living in the country. He also lauded Sri Sri’s vision of a stress-free, violence-free world. PM Shinzo ABE was also the only Japanese Prime Minister to have addressed the Indian Parliament in 2007. He wanted to cultivate a deep partnership with India as part of aligning the free and democratic countries of the region together. In this regard, ABE’s vision of Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) placed India in a prominent position which was even considered by global leaders to be a very forward-looking concept.
During his era, bilateral relations grew and large developmental and infrastructural projects were developed in India’s North-East region and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The civil nuclear deal was signed with India during ABE’s period removing an important hurdle and facilitating India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). This deal also reflected the comfort and growing confidence in each other and the depth of the strategic partnership. The visionary “Asia Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC) was launched during his period.
As a strong and visionary leader, he wanted Japan to take a leadership role in the Indo-Pacific region both economically and militarily as he sought to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution due to an assertive China. He was one of the most consequential leaders of Japan in its post-war history and was Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister, having served two terms from 2006 to 2007 and then from 2012 to 2020. Most of all he was a good friend of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as both wanted their respective countries to achieve greater heights both economically and politically within the region.
No Prime Minister has become so popular both politically and diplomatically and had such a standing internationally as Shinzo ABE. He was a towering global statesman, an outstanding leader, and a remarkable administrator. A great supporter of India, ABE leaves a visionary legacy that continues to shape Japan, Indo-Japan ties, the Indo-Pacific, and beyond. He dedicated his life to making Japan and the world a better place. This is a tragic loss for his country, for India, and for the entire world. Our deepest condolences to his family and the people of Japan. His contributions are deeply valued and his legacy will continue to live.
Commodore R.S Vasan IN (Retd)