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Japan disappointed as Modi postpones visit

In another example of his “direct letter diplomacy”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday to express his regret over having to put off his visit scheduled for July 3 to 5 due to the budget session.

In the letter, that was handed over personally by Indian Ambassador to Japan, Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, Mr. Modi spoke of India and Japan’s “shared interests” as two “Asian democracies” and looked forward to visit Japan at the “earliest opportunity”.

The postponement of Mr. Modi’s visit was one of two disappointments to the government’s plans for a big splash in Japan. The India-U.S.-Japan trilateral meeting, that had been scheduled for June 23-24 was also postponed until further notice because of last-minute scheduling issues with the Japanese delegation.

Preparations under way

Sources in Japan say discussions on preparations for Mr. Modi’s visit to Tokyo, as well as Kyoto were already under way, and Ms. Wadhwa was expected in Delhi for consultations ahead of the visit this weekend.

The decision of Mr. Modi to call off a visit that requires considerable arrangements, given Japanese penchant for meticulous attention to detail, has been received with some disappointment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Tokyo.

The decision also contrasts with Mr. Abe’s decision in a similar situation in January this year, when he visited India as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade. At that time the Japanese Diet (Parliament) was about to start its annual budget session (on January 24), and Mr. Abe had to take an all-party consensus in order to excuse himself from the first few days of the session. As a result, his visit to Delhi was very short, and could only be confirmed at the last minute, but he ensured that he kept his Delhi commitment, an aide of Mr. Abe told The Hindu at the time, “It was because the majority was in favour of him visiting India.”

However, the government has decided that it would not be possible for Mr. Modi to return the gesture ahead of India’s Budget session. However, sources said, the Prime Minister’s Office is hopeful of rescheduling the visit after the Parliament session in July.

Brazil visit

Mr. Modi’s visit to the BRICS summit in Brazil, is still on schedule for July 15-16. “The change of date cannot affect broader ties that the two countries and the two leaders share… As Modi and Abe will together announce a paradigm shift in India-Japan ties when the visit does take place,” said one of the team members working on advance arrangements.

On the anvil for discussion are a possible agreement on nuclear energy cooperation, India’s pitch for high-speed trains and infrastructural investment on industrial corridors.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 2:48:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/japan-disappointed-as-modi-postpones-visit/article6130949.ece

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