My Friend, Abe San

Published By : Admin | July 8, 2022 | 19:27 IST

Shinzo Abe - an outstanding leader of Japan, a towering global statesman, and a great champion of India-Japan friendship - is not among us anymore. Japan and the world have lost a great visionary. And, I have lost a dear friend.

I first met him in 2007, during my visit to Japan as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Right from that first meeting, our friendship went beyond the trappings of office and the shackles of official protocol.

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.

 

 

And, I will always cherish the singular honour of having been invited to his 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.

His counsel inspired me in my economic choices for Gujarat. And, his support was instrumental in building Gujarat’s vibrant partnership with Japan.

Later on, it was my 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. For him, this was one of the most consequential relationships for the people of our two countries and the world. He was resolute in pursuing the civil nuclear agreement with India – a most difficult one for his country – and decisive in offering the most generous terms for the High Speed Rail in India. As in most important milestones in independent India’s journey, he ensured that Japan is there side by side as New India accelerates its growth.

His contribution to India-Japan relations was richly recognised by the conferment upon him of the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2021.

Abe San had a deep insight into the complex and multiple transitions taking place in the world, the vision to be ahead of his time to see its impact on politics, society, economy and international relations, the wisdom to know the choices that were to be made, the capacity to make clear and bold decisions even in the face of conventions and the rare ability to carry his people and the world with him. His far-reaching policies - Abenomics - reinvigorated the Japanese economy and re-ignited the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship of his people.

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.

And, he led from the front in building a framework and architecture for its stable and secure, peaceful and prosperous future, based on values that he deeply cherished – respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, adherence to international law and rules, peaceful conduct of international relations in a spirit of equality and shared prosperity through deeper economic engagement.

The Quad, the ASEAN-led forums, the Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative, the India-Japan Development Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including Africa and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure all benefited from his contributions. Quietly and without fanfare, and overcoming hesitation at home and scepticism abroad, he transformed Japan’s strategic engagement, including in defence, connectivity, infrastructure and sustainability, across the Indo Pacific region. For that, the region is more optimistic about its destiny and the world more confident about its future.

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. 

I 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.

Explore More
77ਵੇਂ ਸੁਤੰਤਰਤਾ ਦਿਵਸ ਦੇ ਅਵਸਰ ’ਤੇ ਲਾਲ ਕਿਲੇ ਦੀ ਫ਼ਸੀਲ ਤੋਂ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ, ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਨਰੇਂਦਰ ਮੋਦੀ ਦੇ ਸੰਬੋਧਨ ਦਾ ਮੂਲ-ਪਾਠ

Popular Speeches

77ਵੇਂ ਸੁਤੰਤਰਤਾ ਦਿਵਸ ਦੇ ਅਵਸਰ ’ਤੇ ਲਾਲ ਕਿਲੇ ਦੀ ਫ਼ਸੀਲ ਤੋਂ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ, ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਨਰੇਂਦਰ ਮੋਦੀ ਦੇ ਸੰਬੋਧਨ ਦਾ ਮੂਲ-ਪਾਠ
Public Sector Unit banks still lead Indian banking landscape: SBI report

Media Coverage

Public Sector Unit banks still lead Indian banking landscape: SBI report
NM on the go

Nm on the go

Always be the first to hear from the PM. Get the App Now!
...
Ramoji Rao Garu - a multifaceted persona
June 09, 2024

The last several days have been very busy for those in the world of politics and media…the Lok Sabha elections have just concluded and now we are in the midst of preparations of Government formation for the third consecutive term. At such a time, I received the painful news of the passing away of Ramoji Rao Garu. This loss feels extremely personal, considering the close nature of our interactions.

When I think of Ramoji Rao Garu, I recall a multifaceted luminary whose brilliance had no parallel. He hailed from an agrarian family and went on to make a mark in diverse worlds- cinema, entertainment, media, agriculture, education and governance. But what remained common during his entire life journey was his humility and connect with the grassroots. These traits endeared him to a broad spectrum of people.

Ramoji Rao Garu revolutionised the media space. He set new standards for integrity, innovation and excellence. He moved with the times and he moved ahead of the times too. At a time when newspapers were the most prevalent source of news he started Eenadu. In the 1990s, when India embraced the world of TV, he got off the mark with ETV. By venturing into channels in non-Telugu languages as well, he showed remarkable commitment to boosting the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’.

Beyond his professional achievements, Ramoji Rao Garu was passionate about India's development. His efforts extended beyond the newsroom, impacting educational, business and social causes. He was a firm believer in democratic principles and this fighting spirit was best seen when the Congress Party harassed the great NTR and unceremoniously dismissed his Government in the 1980s. At that time the Congress was in power in the Centre and in Andhra Pradesh, but he was not someone to be scared…he resisted these undemocratic attempts tooth and nail.

I am fortunate to have had several opportunities to interact with him and benefit from his wisdom. I deeply valued his views on diverse issues. Since my days as Chief Minister, I have received valuable insights and feedback from him. He was always keen to know about good governance efforts especially in agriculture and education in Gujarat. Sometime in 2010, he invited me to Ramoji Film City. During that interaction, he was curious to know more about Gujarat’s efforts to establish a Children’s University, as he felt that such a concept was unheard of previously. His encouragement and support were always unwavering. He would always make it a point to ask about my wellbeing. In 2012, when I had the opportunity to become the Chief Minister for the 4th time, he sent me a very touching letter, expressing joy.

When we began the Swachh Bharat Mission, he was one of the strongest votaries of this effort, supporting it personally and through his media network. It is stalwarts like Ramoji Rao Garu who ensured that we are able to fulfil Mahatma Gandhi’s dream in record time and also ensure dignity to crores of fellow Indians.

I consider it a matter of great pride that it was our Government which had the honour of conferring the Padma Vibhushan upon him. His courage, resilience and dedication will continue to inspire generations. From his life, the younger generation can learn how to turn obstacles into opportunities, transform challenges into triumphs, and convert setbacks into stepping stones for success.

Since the last few days, Ramoji Rao Garu was ailing and even in the midst of the election related activities, I used to enquire about his health. I am sure he would have been very happy to see our Governments take oath and hit the ground running, be it at the Centre, or in Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of my friend, Chandrababu Naidu Garu. We will keep working to fulfil his vision for our nation and society. As we mourn Ramoji Rao Garu’s passing, my heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and countless admirers. Ramoji Rao Garu will forever remain a beacon of inspiration.

This is a translation of the original piece published in Eenadu: