‘Global Times’ says Abe played a role in bringing the multilateral Quad into existence to counter China.
While the Government of India decided to declare national mourning on the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a mark of respect and the efforts that he put to develop the bilateral relations between the two countries, China called him a “controversial figure” who tore the ties between China and Japan “apart”.
“Global Times”, the flagship newspaper of Chinese Communist Party (CCP), while writing about his death, stated how Abe played a role in bringing the multilateral Quad, a body comprising India, United States, Australia and Japan, into existence, that China sees as an entity that has been created to counter the expansionism policies of China. The news of his death, in an indication of how he was not “welcomed” in China, was given scant coverage by the Chinese media. On Weibo too, which is the most used social media platform in China, hashtags celebrating the death of Abe were put out by common people and “nationalist” users.
One reason for the dislike for Abe in China was due to his closeness to India, something which he never hid. On Saturday, in a rare move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, American President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, while mourning the death of Abe, issued a joint statement, and stated that they will honour his memory by “redoubling their work towards a peaceful and prosperous region”.
“We, the leaders of Australia, India, and the United States, are shocked at the tragic assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Prime Minister Abe was a transformative leader for Japan and for Japanese relations with each one of our countries. He also played a formative role in the founding of the Quad partnership, and worked tirelessly to advance a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Our hearts are with the people of Japan — and Prime Minister Kishida— in this moment of grief. We will honor Prime Minister Abe’s memory by redoubling our work towards a peaceful and prosperous region.”
PM Modi, after Abe passed away, in an unprecedented move, wrote an obituary for Abe titled: “My Friend, Abe San” while also sharing his pain and his memories that he shared with Abe in a series of more than ten tweets. Abe was given the Padma Vibhushan in 2021 by the Modi government.
Abe had first reached out to India to form a “strategic global partnership” while addressing the joint session of the parliament on 22 August 2007, almost 15 years ago, a move which he believed would help both India and Japan in the coming years to counter China’s bullish behaviour. His speech was titled, “Confluence of the Two Seas”.
Serving two terms as the prime minister of Japan, Abe put in a significant amount of work to upgrade the strategic Japan–India relationship and then brought the US and Australia into the grouping that led to the birth of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad). “By Japan and India coming together in this way, this “broader Asia” will evolve into an immense network spanning the entirety of the Pacific Ocean, incorporating the United States of America and Australia. Open and transparent, this network will allow people, goods, capital, and knowledge to flow freely,” Abe told the Indian parliamentarians.
It is pertinent to mention that when Modi became the Prime Minister, Japan was among the first countries that he visited and met Abe who was then serving his second term as the PM of Japan. Tomohiko Taniguchi, the former Special Advisor to Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an interview to The Sunday Guardian earlier had recalled how the Quad moved ahead only after Modi came to power and the chemistry that he shared with Abe. The previous political dispensation in India had said no to Abe’s invitation to India to join a strategic bloc to counter China due to which the whole idea of Quad lay dormant for years as Abe did not want to form any such grouping without India being part of it.
Even as Abe recuperated at his home after resigning from the post of PM in August 2022, he watched his years of labour finally bearing result as on 24 September 2021, President Biden, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan came together at the White House for the first-ever in-person Leaders’ Summit of the Quad. This meet was immediately described by China as “an exclusive clique” that has been brought into existence to work against China. When China intruded into India’s territory as the world was fighting a battle against Covid that eventually led to the Galwan incident in June 2020, Japan was among the first countries that hit out against China for its ‘unilateral attempts’ to change the status quo at India-China border. It was under Abe that Japan passed a legislation that allowed it to share defence related intelligence with India, something which it only used to do with the US earlier.