India commemorated a day of national mourning on Saturday in honor of the late Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of Japan, who was killed while giving a speech the day before.
The bullet that struck Abe, 67, Japan’s longest-serving prime leader, in the western Japanese city of Nara on Friday evening was ruled fatal.
His passing sparked an outpouring of condolences from current and former international leaders, as well as outrage that a politician could be assassinated in broad daylight in one of the safest societies in the world where firearms are carefully regulated.
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, paid tribute to Abe on social media as one of his “dearest friends.” He tweeted: “I am shocked and saddened beyond words at the tragic demise.”
Abe received praise in India for his contribution to fostering mutual understanding and backing of New Delhi’s position in the Indo-Pacific region.
He was also essential in the creation of the Quad, a strategic alliance between the US, Australia, India, and Japan.
“Whole India mourns with Japan,” Modi tweeted. “We stand in solidarity with our Japanese brothers and sisters in this difficult moment.”
After Abe’s passing was confirmed, Modi announced July 9 to be a day of mourning, noting that Abe had contributed greatly to improving bilateral ties.
Other well-known individuals in India, such as Dr. Manmohan Singh, a former prime minister and the head of the main opposition Congress Party, commended Abe for his work in that area.
“He was a good friend of mine. During my tenure as prime minister, we worked to raise both our countries’ ties to the level of a global and strategic partnership,” Singh said.
Abe, who made four trips to India while serving as prime minister of Japan, was recognized as the Republic Day parade’s principal guest in 2014 and received the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honor, in 2021.
He was crucial to the India-Japan civilian nuclear agreement. The agreement, which was reached in 2016, marks the first time Japan, the only nation to have experienced a nuclear assault, reached a such agreement with a country that is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“Shinzo Abe was a futuristic person who believed in harnessing the immense potential in the bilateral relationship between India and Japan. The civil nuclear agreement was the by-product of that belief,” Dr. Swasti Rao of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, a New Delhi-based think tank, told Arab News.
He claimed that Abe had viewed India as Japan’s “natural partner,” not only in terms of containing China’s expanding influence and assertiveness in Asia, but also due to their shared democratic systems, democratic cultures, and civilizations.
“It’s like the passing of an era,” Rao said. “He was someone who loved India. It was not superficial, he was a true friend.”