Modi cheers Abe’s big election win, India-Japan ties set for upswing

When Shinzo Abe secured a landslide victory in the national election on October 22, making him one of the longest-serving leaders of post-war Japan, one of the first congratulatory messages to reach him was that of his Indian friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Heartiest greetings to my dear friend @AbeShinzo on his big election win,” tweeted an elated Mr. Modi. “Look forward to further strengthen India—Japan relations with him.”
Mr. Abe is one of the few world leaders with whom Mr. Modi shares a great personal chemistry and is also engaged in various joint initiatives both domestically as well as internationally such as the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor which is widely seen as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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Partnering an Asian Renaissance

India and Japan have enjoyed a relationship spanning 15 centuries, which has been underpinned by a strong civilizational foundation. The gentle message of Lord Buddha was spread throughout the country by Prince Regent Shoutoku, who used the prestige of the Imperial Court to propagate the ideals, which had emanated from India and which had influenced the whole of Asia from Burma to Japan. Temples and shrines that dot the magnificent Japanese archipelago have images of gods and goddesses like Saraswati and Ganesh and other names familiar to the Indian sub-continent.

Cultural Affinity
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries these ancient links were reinforced by great spiritual leaders such as Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda who travelled to Japan and renewed the message of peace and universal brotherhood that had first come to Japanese shores many centuries earlier.
At the political level, the rapid rise of Japan after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and its transformation into an industrial country, with a powerful army and navy, impressed many political leaders in India who were struggling against British colonialism. The defeat of the powerful Chinese Empire in 1895 and of Russia, the largest European empire in 1905, at the hands of the Japanese, had a profound effect on national movements in India, Burma, Vietnam and Indonesia. The Indian National Congress split between activists who espoused emulation of Japan and those who preferred more constitutional methods of struggle. Similar struggles at the ideological level emerged under Phan Boi Chau in Vietnam, Sukarno in Indonesia and Aung San in Burma; all these leaders favoured following the Japanese example of using military force.

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India’s balancing act: V.K. Singh to visit Beijing for World War II Parade

It’s official. India’s Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh will represent India at China’s World War II Military Parade that commemorates the 70thanniversary of the end of World War II and China’s victory day celebrations over Japan. Around 30 heads of state are expected to be in Beijing on September 3 to attend the high profile event.

These include, among others, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. This is the first time China is holding a military parade to mark the day and this move is seen by many as China’s intent to showcase its military strength and capabilities.

Seventeen countries are sending 1000 soldiers to march at the parade. India is not, however, sending any military contingent to the Beijing event. India had earlier sent a military contingent to participate in Russia’s commemoration of World War II, which was attended by India’s President Pranab Mukherjee. China had also invited Mr Mukherjee as per protocol but the Indian government, after much internal discussions, decided to send Mr Singh to China as its representative. Informed sources said that India decided to downgrade its representation due to its burgeoning relations with Japan as China’s military parade is widely seen as aimed at expressing anti-Japan sentiment.

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