India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend state funeral of Japan's Shinzo Abe

The two leaders shared a special relationship and strengthened India and Japan’s bilateral ties

The shooting of Shinzo Abe marked the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese prime minister since the 1930s. Reuters
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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Japan next week to attend the state funeral of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated during an election campaign event in July.

Mr Modi, who described the Japanese leader as a "dear friend" is expected to join about 50 world leaders including Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau, his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese and US Vice President Kamala Harris for the funeral on September 27.

Abe was delivering a speech near a train station in the western city of Nara when he was shot by an assailant on July 8. He was flown to hospital, where he was not breathing and his heart stopped, officials said. He was 67.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with then Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, in New Delhi. Abe died after being shot at a campaign event in July. AFP

The Abe family held a private Buddhist funeral ceremony for the former leader in July at a temple in Tokyo.

It was the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese prime minister since the 1930s.

India's Foreign Ministry said Mr Modi would separately meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the visit.

A representative of the ministry, Arindam Bagchi, said Japan was a friendly country and an important partner.

"The prime minister has found time to be able to go despite his busy schedule and be present at the state funeral,” he said.

Abe — one of the most significant leaders of Japan in its post-war era — shared a special relationship with Mr Modi and it was during his terms that India and Japan’s bilateral ties were strengthened.

From backing a nuclear deal with India to lending diplomatic and economic development support, Abe had bolstered ties with New Delhi since taking over as the leader of Japan in 2006.

He also built a strong rapport with former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh.

On several occasions, he expressed admiration for Mr Modi.

The India leader said he was “deeply distressed by dear friend" Abe's death.

"Even when he was not the prime minister of Japan between 2007 and 2012, and more recently after 2020, our personal bond remained as strong as ever," Mr Modi wrote in a newspaper piece while paying tribute to Abe.

"I will always be indebted to him for his warmth and wisdom, grace and generosity, friendship and guidance, and I will miss him dearly."

Updated: September 23, 2022, 6:22 AM