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Abe's life may have been cut short but his legacy will endure forever: PM Modi

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New Delhi, July 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday penned a touching tribute to former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe, calling him a towering global statesman, a great champion of India-Japan friendship and a dear friend whose counsel inspired him in his economic choices for Gujarat as the state's then chief minister.

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"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," Modi wrote in his blog on the Japan's longest-serving prime minister.

Abes life may have been cut short but his legacy will endure forever: PM Modi

"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," he added.

Abe, 67, died after being shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan. Among Abe's greatest gifts to people and his most enduring legacy, one for which the world will always be indebted, is his foresight in recognising the changing tides and gathering storm of our times and his leadership in responding to it, Modi said.

The prime minister noted that long before others, Abe, in his seminal speech to 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.

"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," he said of the leader with whom he shared warm personal relation. Modi said it was his privilege as prime minister to work with Abe to bring about an unprecedented transformation of the strategic partnership between India and Japan.

From a largely narrow, bilateral economic relationship, the Japanese leader helped turn it into a broad, comprehensive one, which not only covered every field of national endeavour but became pivotal for the two countries’ and the region's security, he said. "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," Modi said. 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, the prime minister added.

His contribution to India-Japan relations was richly recognised by the conferment upon him of the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2021. Paying tributes to Abe's leadership, Modi said he had a deep insight into the complex and multiple transitions taking place in the world and the vision to be ahead of his time to see its impact on politics, society, economy and international relations.

He had 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," he said. Modi said he will always be indebted for his warmth and wisdom, grace and generosity, friendship and guidance, and will miss him dearly.

Lauding his contribution to the region, he said Abe led from the front in building a framework and architecture for its stable, 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.

Modi said the Quad, the ASEAN-led forums, the Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor 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, he wrote. Recalling their close personal ties, Modi said he first met him in 2007 during his visit to Japan as then chief minister of Gujarat. Right from that first meeting, their friendship went beyond the trappings of office and the shackles of official protocol, he said. Their visit to Toji temple in Kyoto, train journey on the Shinkansen, visit to the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad besides their presence at the Ganga Aarati in Kashi and the elaborate tea ceremony in Tokyo, the list of their memorable interactions is indeed long, he said.

"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," Modi said, adding that even when Abe was not the prime minister of Japan between 2007 and 2012, and more recently after 2020, their personal bond remained as strong as ever. Expressing condolences, the prime minister said, "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."

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