Shinzo Abe & India – Japan Relations
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated on 8th July 2022 on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere. Japan's influential and longest-serving prime minister worked to revitalize the nation's economy — with his namesake "Abenomics" policy — and rebuild its role on the global stage. He was 67.
Japan's gun control laws are tight, handguns and rifles are banned outright, and shooting deaths are extremely rare. Bloodshed has been absent from Japanese politics for more than six decades, most of which the Liberal Democratic Party, to which Abe belonged, has had a lock on power.
Abe is widely seen as the main architect of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, which brings together Australia, India, Japan and the US and is now perceived as the pre-eminent bloc in the Indo-Pacific. Abe worked with former prime minister Manmohan Singh to elevate India-Japan relations to a “special strategic and global partnership” in December 2006 in order to boost all-round cooperation and contribute to greater regional peace and stability.
India Japan Relations
Exchange between Japan and India is said to have begun in the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan. Indian culture, filtered through Buddhism, has had a great impact on Japanese culture, and this is the source of the Japanese people's sense of closeness to India.
Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations on 28th April, 1952. This treaty was one of the first peace treaties Japan signed after World War II.
Japan is regarded as a key partner in India’s economic transformation. Japan’s interest in India is increasing due to a variety of reasons including India’s large and growing market and its resources, especially the human resources. Japan’s bilateral trade with India reached US$ 17.63 billion in FY 2018-19.
India’s primary exports to Japan have been petroleum products, chemicals, elements, compounds, non-metallic mineral ware, fish & fish preparations, metalliferous ores & scrap, clothing & accessories, iron & steel products, textile yarn, fabrics, and machinery, etc.
India’s primary imports from Japan are machinery, electrical machinery, iron and steel products, plastic materials, non-ferrous metals, parts of motor vehicles, organic chemicals, manufacturers of metals, etc.
India-Japan exchanges have strengthened due to growing convergence on strategic matters; and its significance is growing from the common outlook on issues of peace, security, and stability of the Indo-Pacific Region.
The Tri-Service Exchanges between Japan and India have been institutionalized completing the triad. Coast Guards have had regular annual exchanges since 2006.
Malabar 2019 was conducted off Western Kyushu in the Sea of Japan in September 2019. INS Sahyadri and INS Kiltan participated in the exercise.
Shinzo Abe & India: A lasting legacy
Abe was instrumental in shaping and strengthening India–Japan
ties. For India, Abe will remain a very special Japanese leader. His fondness
for India and his vision for India–Japan ties has been central to his vision of
the Indo-Pacific. After visiting India during his first term, he gave bilateral
ties a new momentum by becoming the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit
In August 2007, when Abe visited India for the first time as PM, he delivered the now-famous “Confluence of the Two Seas” speech – laying the foundation for his concept of Indo-Pacific. This concept has now become mainstream and one of the main pillars of India-Japan ties.
Modi and Abe agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to a “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” – a relationship which encompassed issues from civilian nuclear energy to maritime security, bullet trains to quality infrastructure, Act East policy to Indo-Pacific strategy.
Since 2013, Indian and Chinese soldiers have had four publicly-known border standoffs, and Abe stood with India through each of them. During the Doklam crisis and the current standoff, Japan made statements against China for changing the status quo.
During Abe’s visit in 2015, India decided to introduce the Shinkansen system (bullet train). Under Abe’s leadership, India and Japan also formed the Act East Forum and are engaged in projects in the Northeast, closely watched by China. The two countries also planned joint projects in Maldives and Sri Lanka among others to counter Beijing’s influence.
Abe was one of the most consequential leaders of Japan in its post-war history. He was Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister, staying in the post from 2006 to 2007, and then from 2012 to 2020. During his time in office, Abe was a great friend of India — a relationship that he invested personally in – and shared a special rapport with Modi.
Abe leaves behind a consequential legacy of a rare breed of Japanese statesmen who shaped not only the Japanese domestic milieu but also managed to have a significant imprint on global strategy. For a self-confessed conservative, this is a truly remarkable achievement.
Japan and India cultivate and maintain relationships with other countries to support their position in the global community. In today’s perilous world, the two countries are bound to one another by common interests, especially where foreign policy is concerned.
India and Japan have a lot of mutual interests in the fields of digital technology- Japan has the tech and India has the labor with raw materials.
The close cooperation is advantageous for both the countries to tackle hostile neighbors like China as well.