PM Modi visits ancient Buddhist temple in Japan

The fact that Mr. Abe spent the whole weekend with Mr. Modi is a significant political message.

August 31, 2014 08:43 am | Updated November 16, 2021 06:59 pm IST - Kyoto

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, right, tour at Toji Temple in Kyoto. Photo: AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, right, tour at Toji Temple in Kyoto. Photo: AP

Ancient and modern

There’s little doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message is nothing but well calibrated. On Sunday morning, Mr. Modi sent two messages from Kyoto. One from the Toji temple in Kyoto – that of peace and tranquility from an ancient Buddhist shrine.

If he was dressed in saffron at the Pashupatinath temple in Nepal, the Prime Minister’s preferred colour was white at the Toji temple on Sunday. Accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the PM even met a few activists raising slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai.

Soon after the temple visit, Mr. Modi was at a cutting edge stem cell research lab in Kyoto University headed by Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka, who won the prize for medicine in 2012. During his meeting, Mr. Modi inquired if there was a possibility to seek treatment for sickle cell anaemia that affects sections of the Indian tribal population, including in Gujarat

So, if early morning was about ancient temples, late Sunday morning was all about modernity, cutting-edge research and collaboration.

Syed Akbaruddin, Official Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs later tweeted:

First visit after school, says Abe

It was his first visit to the Toji temple in Kyoto after his school days. That’s what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conveyed to his counterpart Narendra Modi during their visit to the shrine. “I haven’t been here since I was in school,” Mr. Abe is said to have told Mr. Modi.

Given that Kyoto was added on just before Mr. Modi’s visit, the fact that Mr. Abe spent the whole weekend with Mr. Modi is a significant political message. Clearly, there’s an easy bonhomie between the two leaders, both of them unhesitant to speak about their strong political mandates.

Japanese press focused on China

Carrying a large front-page picture of PM Modi on its front page, the Japan Times on Sunday reported that China was viewed as a “common threat’ by both countries. There’s little doubt that Japanese concerns about China dominate the discourse on foreign affairs and relations with India are no exception.

According to the newspaper, Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe are expected to “curb Beijing’s increasing activities in the East and South China seas as well as in the Indian Ocean”.

Whether this happens or not, the official meetings in Tokyo between Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe will tell.

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