Japan has not yet announced his visit, says he ‘intends to visit if circumstances allow’

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be able to squeeze in a visit to India to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade on Sunday.

Meticulous to a fault, the Japanese have till now not announced Mr. Abe’s visit, during which he will have an intensive session with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In fact, an invitation from the Embassy of Japan sent a day earlier was circumspect, saying Mr. Abe “intends to visit India, if circumstances allow”.

But the Indian side is sure Mr. Abe would make it and in the process be the first Prime Minister of Japan to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. When a Japanese journalist said Mr. Abe, despite being the Prime Minister of a pacifist nation, will be witnessing nuclear capable missiles being displayed, MEA’s Joint Secretary (East Asia) Gautam Bambawale pointed out that it was not purely a military parade but had a civilian component too.

“It also shows off social and cultural aspects of India. [The] fact is we have had chief guests for our annual parade for many decades. We are delighted he has accepted the invitation at a time when it is not completely convenient to him,” said Mr. Bambawale.

The senior MEA official also admitted that Japan was crucial to India’s plans to set up nuclear plants with French and American technology. “We are aware that in the area of nuclear technology, certain advantages rest with the Japanese industry — for example in large scale forgings.

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