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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, September 27: World leaders descended in Tokyo on Tuesday to bid adieu to former Prime Minister of Japan late Shinzo Abe in a befitting tribute to his lasting legacy to shield the global order from the rough march of China.

For India, Abe was a friend of all seasons, deepening ties even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the charge from Manmohan Singh.

Singh-Abe Summit had dropped the strategic anchor to India-Japan relations, which also included partnership for an amphibious aircraft, which was a departure for Tokyo in inking a defence pact with New Delhi, besides partnership for major infrastructure expansion through Rail-Metro routes.

The Modi-Abe bonhomie gave new wings to the bilateral relations even while Tokyo in the initial years of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre raised eyebrows at New Delhi going overboard with China.

A Japanese diplomat was most worried, asking this author, why India is not as warm with Japan as is with China. That was until China had struck India and Modi in particular with Doklam operations.

Even after hosting the Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mammallapuram, Tamil Nadu in 2017 for the second informal summit, Modi realised that Beijing wouldn’t stop making mischief at the line of actual control.

By then Abe was ready with an anti-China architecture, enticing the US to take stake in the Indo US and roping in Australia and India for Quad.

Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is a true ideological successor of Abe, and India-Japan ties remain firm under his leadership. Kishida was Foreign Minister in the Abe Cabinet.

On Tuesday, Modi offered his condolences to Kishida.

“We are meeting today in this hour of grief. After arriving in Japan today, I am feeling more saddened. Because the last time I came, I had a very long conversation with Abe San. And never thought that after leaving, I would have to hear such a news,” Modi told Kishida.

The Prime Minister also remarked “along with Abe San, you in the role of Foreign Minister have taken the India-Japan relationship to new heights and also expanded it further in many areas”.

“And our friendship, the friendship of India and Japan, also played a major role in creating a global impact. And for all this, today, the people of India remember Abe San very much, remember Japan very much. India is always missing him in a way,” said Modi.

Both the leaders committed to further deepen the ties.

“…I am confident that under your leadership, India-Japan relations will deepen further, and scale to greater heights. And I firmly believe that we will be able to play an appropriate role in finding solutions to the problems of the world,” said Modi.

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