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Eyes on China, Japan PM Kishida urges US, India to work for ‘free & open’ Indo-Pacific

Kishida met PM Narendra Modi and US Vice President Kamala Harris, who are in Tokyo for the state funeral of former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.

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New Delhi: In what is being referred to as ‘condolence diplomacy’, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Tuesday urged the US and India to realise the full potential of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” in remarks apparently aimed at China.

Kishida, who is facing a major backlash in his country for holding a state funeral for former PM Shinzo Abe, met US Vice President Kamala Harris and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and emphasised the need for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, according to a statement by his office.

Japan, along with the US, India and Australia make up the Quad. Leaders of all four Quad countries met last during a summit-level dialogue in May this year for which PM Modi had travelled to Tokyo.

Modi, who arrived in Tokyo Tuesday morning to attend Abe’s state funeral, held a bilateral meeting with Kishida where he said that the close partnership between New Delhi and Tokyo has taken the India-Japan ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’ to newer heights.

“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,” Modi told Kishida at a bilateral meet Tuesday.

“But 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,” Modi said.

According to a press statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Prime Minister noted the contributions of late Japanese PM Abe in strengthening India-Japan partnership and in “conceptualizing the vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region”.

“The two leaders had a productive exchange of views on further deepening bilateral relations. They also discussed a number of regional and global issues. The leaders renewed their commitment towards further strengthening the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership, and in working together in the region and in various international groupings and institutions,” the MEA said.

On Monday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said at a media conference before leaving for Tokyo that Japan is “one of the most trusted and valued strategic partners of India”.

“There is a deep convergence in our visions of the Indo-Pacific region and there is close cooperation between our countries on issues of international importance,” Kwatra added.

Meanwhile, Kishida’s office said his meeting with US Vice President Harris was “an opportunity to renew our determination to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and strengthen Japan-U.S. cooperation toward the realization of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.

The two sides exchanged their views on regional issues, including China, North Korea and Russian aggression against Ukraine, said a statement by Kishida’s office.

The statement went further to say, “In addition, the two sides concurred to continue close coordination between Japan and the U.S., in strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, engaging in the Indo-Pacific region in a sustained manner, and reaching out to middle-ground countries, in order not to allow unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the region.”

PM Modi, along with representatives from over 100 countries, including more than 20 Heads of State and Heads of Government, are in Tokyo to attend the state funeral.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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