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Transcript of Special Briefing by Foreign Secretary on Prime Minister’s visit to Japan (September 26, 2022)

September 26, 2022

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for joining us this afternoon for a special media briefing on Prime Minister's forthcoming visit to Japan to attend the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Actually Prime Minister would be taking off in a few hours so without further ado, I will hand over to Foreign Secretary Sir.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you Arindam, and good afternoon all of you for coming here this afternoon for this special briefing on Prime Minister's upcoming visit to Japan. As Arindam mentioned, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Tokyo, Japan. He will be leaving in few hours from now today to attend the state funeral of former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. During this visit, the Prime Minister will attend the state funeral ceremony at Budokan, which would be followed by a greeting occasion at the Akasaka palace in Tokyo. He will also meet Prime Minister Kishida and Mrs. Abe, during this visit. We understand that representatives from over a hundred countries, including more than 20 Heads of State and Heads of Government are expected to participate in the state funeral tomorrow. You would recall that India had announced one-day national mourning on 9th of July, 2022, as a mark of respect for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This visit by Prime Minister Modi will be an opportunity for him to honour the memory of former Prime Minister Abe, who he considered a dear friend and a great champion of India-Japan relationship.

Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Abe had developed a personal bond of trust and friendship through their numerous meetings and interactions spanning over a decade beginning from Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Japan in 2007 as the then Chief Minister of Gujarat. The two leaders made enormous contributions and were singularly responsible for elevating India-Japan relations to the status of Special Strategic and Global Partnership in 2014.

Prime Minister Abe made significant contributions to deepening India-Japan relations, turning largely economic relationship into a broad, Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership, making it pivotal for the security of both our countries and also for region's security. Prime Minister Abe’s famous "Confluence of two Seas” speech in the Indian parliament in 2007, laid the ground for the emergence of Indo-Pacific region as a contemporary political, strategic and economic reality. Prime Minister Abe’s contribution to India-Japan relations was recognized by the conferment upon him of the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2021.

This visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan comes after Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to India for India-Japan Summit meeting earlier in March this year and Prime Minister Modi's visit to Japan for the Quad leaders’ Summit in May this year. Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Kishida had also held the bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in May. These meetings have underscored the two leaders’ continuing commitment towards further deepening India-Japan ties. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of India-Japan diplomatic relationship.

Today, as we all know, Japan is one of the most trusted and valued strategic partners of India. The two sides are committed to strengthening the bilateral partnership in key areas that include, trade and investment, defense and security, climate change, health security, infrastructure, digital space, industrial development, energy, and critical and emerging technologies and human resources among others. There is a deep convergence in our visions of Indo-Pacific region and there is close cooperation between our countries on issues of international importance.

The bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Kishida during the upcoming visit will be an opportunity for the two leaders to reaffirm their commitment, to further strengthening of India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership. I would stop here and would take a few questions.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you Sir. We'll open the floor for questions, please introduce yourself and the organization.

Akhilesh: Sir, I’m Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV. Do you foresee any other bilateral meeting during this visit?

Sidhant: Sir my question basically was on any other bilateral meeting, but of course, how long this visit will be, I mean, it's a 24-hour long visit, if you can give that detail, he leaves today and comes tomorrow?

Takashi: Thank you very much. My name is Takashi from Asahi Shimbun, Japanese leading newspaper. I just would like to ask you, is there any plan for Prime Minister Modi to make any other condolence for the funeral of the former Prime Minister Abe?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Any other condolence?

Takashi: Yeah. We are aware of the Prime Minister Modi already gave the sincere condolence in the long message.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Insofar as any other bilateral meetings are concerned, No, at this stage, there are no other bilateral meetings scheduled during the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister. I’m not sort of fully in terms of details of the schedule, but we understand that the duration of the visit would stretch anywhere between 12 to 16 hours basically from the departure to the departure from Tokyo.

With regard to your question, Mr. Takashi, as you know, as I mentioned also in my opening remarks that we had declared a day of national mourning when the Prime Minister Abe departed this world. And my Prime Minister who holds former Prime Minister Abe, a very dear friend, had also conveyed his sincere condolences at that time. During this visit, my Prime Minister will have the opportunity to participate along with representatives of hundred other countries, roughly, as I said, along with the 20 Heads of State and Government to participate in the state funeral, but also along with that, have an opportunity to meet Prime Minister Kishida and Mrs. Abe to convey his condolences in person to the country, to the nation and to the leadership and to Mrs. Abe while he's there. Thank you.

Yeshi: This is Yeshi Seli from the New Indian Express. Are talks around the bullet train going to be a part of the bilateral that PM Modi is going to have?

Smita Sharma: Smita Sharma. Foreign Security just for a clarification is there going to be like a structured delegation level talk with Prime Minister Kishida or is it just a greeting really or a courtesy call?

Speaker 1: This is (inaudible) newspaper agency. I just have some questions and in regarding technical issues, will there be a press conference after the bilateral meeting?

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: During the upcoming visit of Prime Minister to Japan, as I said, he would of course have a greeting occasion with Prime Minister Kishida, to convey his condolences in person. But in addition to that, Prime Minister Modi will also have a brief bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister Kishida. Naturally the relevant people involved from the two sides will be available and participating in these discussions. The discussions will take account and will take a very quick overview and assessment of the overall relationship, its current status, its trajectory, its progress, and the measures that they both need to take, to progress it further as also use this occasion of their meeting between the two Prime Ministers to reaffirm their continuing commitment and the strong efforts that stakeholders on both sides continue to make, to promote and progress this relationship further. I don't think it would be correct to single out one particular item in this conversation. I think, in that answer, I probably covered the question that Ms. Sharma also asked with regard to whether it's only a greeting courtesy call, which is a separate call in addition to a bilateral that the two Prime Ministers will hold. With regard to the Press Conference after the Prime Minister's visit, that schedule is still evolving. We'll keep you posted as it develops.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much Foreign Secretary Sir, as we also have the privilege of having with us Shri Shilpak Ambule, Joint Secretary, East Asia division in the Ministry of External Affairs. Thank you for your presence. Thank you all of you for this press briefing. Anybody has any other question?

Akhilesh Suman: There is an occasion when all the Quad leaders will be there though US President is not coming, but Vice President is coming. So is there any chance of having an informal meeting among the Quad leaders in this time?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Anybody else at the last minute I missed out. Yeah, please go ahead.

Speaker 2: What time exactly is the Prime Minister scheduled to leave?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You know that for security reasons, we don't give exact time. And nobody else? Sir floor is yours.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: It would be totally incorrect, inappropriate and unfair for me to comment on Prime Minister’s schedule really, but with regard to your query, if there would be any other informal meeting with the Quad leaders, as I've said at this stage, there are no bilateral or any other meetings planned during the Prime Minister's visit to Japan other than one brief bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Kishida. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much. Thank you for joining us.

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