New Delhi: Japan’s longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe — who died Friday after being shot during a campaign event — had spoken about Swami Vivekananda’s message against “destruction and dissension”, in a 2007 landmark speech at the Indian Parliament.
Espousing India’s “spirit of tolerance”, Abe had quoted from Vivekananda’s 1893 speech in Chicago, and its underlying message of harmony.
“He said, ‘help and not fight,’ ‘assimilation and not destruction,’ ‘harmony and peace and not dissension’,” Abe told a gathering of Indian leaders, led by then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Abe said the Japanese people were well aware of “the unbroken spirit of tolerance in Indian spiritual history” – “from the reign of Ashoka, the Great to Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha movement of nonviolent resistance”.
In the speech, titled ‘Confluence of the Two Seas,’ Abe had hoped the two countries would work together so that “this spirit of tolerance becomes the leading principle of this century”.
Read the full speech here:
Your Excellency Mr. Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Chairman of the Rajya Sabha,
Your Excellency Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister
Your Excellency Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the Lok Sabha,
Honourable Parliamentary representatives of the Indian people,
Honourable Cabinet members,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to begin my remarks today by extending my sincerest condolences to many victims of nature’s great fury, the people of India who have suffered tremendous damage from the recent torrential rain cantered in Bihar state, who are even at this very moment struggling against enormous hardships.
Today I have the great honour of addressing the highest organ of state power in this largest democracy in the world. I come before you on behalf of the citizens of another democracy that is equally representing Asia, to speak to you about my views on the future of Japan and India.
“The different streams, having their sources in different places, all mingle their water in the sea.”
It gives me tremendous pleasure to be able to begin my address today with the words of Swami Vivekananda, the great spiritual leader that India gave the world.
My friends, where exactly do we now stand historically and geographically? To answer this question, I would like to quote here the title of a book authored by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in 1655. We are now at a point at which the Confluence of the Two Seas is coming into being.
The Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity. A “broader Asia” that broke away geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form. Our two countries have the ability — and the responsibility — to ensure that it broadens yet further and to nurture and enrich these seas to become seas of clearest transparence.
This is the message I wish to deliver directly today to the one billion people of India. That is why I stand before you now in the Central Hall of the highest chamber, to speak with you, the people’s representatives of India.
A number of times in history, Japan and India have attracted one another.
Vivekananda came to be acquainted with Tenshin Okakura, a man ahead of his time in early modern Japan and a type of Renaissance man. Okakura was then guided by Vivekananda and enjoyed also a friendship with Sister Nivedita, Vivekananda’s loyal disciple and a distinguished female social reformer. Many people are aware of all that.
Tomorrow I will be taking a morning flight to Kolkata, where I expect to meet the son of Justice Radhabinod Pal. Justice Pal is highly respected even today by many Japanese for the noble spirit of courage he exhibited during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
People from the Bengal who forged a relationship with Japan — be it the person whose name now graces Kolkata’s international airport (Chandra Bose), or, going back a bit further in time, the ageless poet Rabindranath Tagore — were engaged in at the deepest level of their soul with their Japanese contemporaries. Indeed, the depth and the richness of the exchanges that the intellectual leaders of Japan and India enjoyed during the early modern age are in some ways beyond what we in the modern day can imagine.
This rich history notwithstanding, I would like to state one firm conviction here. The changes now beginning to take place between India and Japan are those that truly have no precedent. First of all, as we can see from recent fascination among the Japanese people with India and the increasing eagerness among Indians to learn Japanese, the interest shown to each other goes far beyond a limited stratum of society but reaches the general public.
Behind this is, of course, the great expectation that economic relationships between our two countries will be deepened. The most eloquent evidence of this is the fact that almost 200 business executives, including Nippon Keidanren Chairman Mr. Fujio Mitarai, have accompanied me on my visit.
Secondly, the feeling of Japanese general public who has started to show interest in India is now trying to catch up to the reality of this “broader Asia.” Japan has undergone “The Discovery of India”, by which I mean we have rediscovered India as a partner that shares the same values and interests and also as a friend that will work alongside us to enrich the seas of freedom and prosperity, which will be open and transparent to all.
I wonder, here in India, whether there is now a similar change underway in your perception of Japan. If, by some chance, this has not yet taken place, would you allow me to say that it started here, now, with all of you?
Here I would like to share with you my own views on the many contributions that India has made — and can make — to the world. I realize that it may seem odd to speak of India’s contributions to a congregation such as this, but I ask your indulgence, as it ties in to what I will touch upon soon afterwards.
I would argue that among many contributions that India can make to the world history, there is first of all its spirit of tolerance. I would like to quote, if I may, Vivekananda again, part of the conclusion of deeply meaningful remarks he delivered in Chicago in 1893. He said,
“help and not fight,” “assimilation and not destruction,” “harmony and peace and not dissension.”
If you insert these exhortations into the context of the modern day, it is clear that these words preaching tolerance can hardly be considered relics of the past. Instead, we can recognize that they now hold a tone that is even more compelling than before.
From the reign of Ashoka the Great to Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha movement of nonviolent resistance, the Japanese people are well aware of the unbroken spirit of tolerance in Indian spiritual history.
I would like to emphasize today to the people of India that the Japanese people stand ready to work together with the Indian people so that this spirit of tolerance becomes the leading principle of this century.
In my view, the second contribution of India is the enormous challenge that it faces today.
All statistics indicate that India will become world’s most populated nation by 2050. According to United Nations forecasts, even if we look ahead only as far as 2030, some 270 million people in India are expected to stream anew from the countryside into towns and cities.
India is trying to fight poverty that still persists today and to overcome social issues that are symbolic of demographic movement while consistently upholding democracy, and, at the same time, striving to achieve high economic growth. This, I believe, is precisely the challenge that India faces today.
As a person responsible for setting the direction of a nation, the scope of your aspiration and the enormity of the difficulties that are likely to accompany their realization leave me at loss for words. The world has its eyes focused on you as you undertake these challenges, and I too will be watching in great anticipation.
My friends, Japan and India have come of late to be of the same intent to form a “Strategic Global Partnership.” in which the two countries are going to expand and fortify their relations. As for how Japan has come to such a conclusion, I hope that through what I have just laid out as my personal views you have come to understand the recognition and expectations Japan has towards India.
This partnership is an association in which we share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, and the respect for basic human rights as well as strategic interests.
Japanese diplomacy is now promoting various concepts in a host of different areas so that a region called “the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” will be formed along the outer rim of the Eurasian continent. The Strategic Global Partnership of Japan and India is pivotal for such pursuits to be successful.
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.
Can we not say that faced with this wide, open, broader Asia, it is incumbent upon us two democracies, Japan and India, to carry out the pursuit of freedom and prosperity in the region?
In addition, as maritime states, both India and Japan have vital interests in the security of sea lanes. It goes without saying that the sea lanes to which I refer are the shipping routes that are the most critical for the world economy.
From now on let us together bear this weighty responsibility that has been entrusted to us, by joining forces with like-minded countries, shall we not, ladies and gentlemen?
The question of what Japan and India should do cooperatively in the area of security in the years to come is one that the officials in charge of diplomacy and defence in our countries must consider jointly. I would like to put that before Prime Minister Singh for his consideration.
If you would kindly allow me to digress here for a minute, I would like to touch upon the fact that there are some recurring themes appearing in Japan’s ODA to India. Those are none other than “forest” and “water.”
For example, in the states of Tripura, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu, Japanese ODA has been operating in conjunction with the local people to conserve the forest and to assist in reforesting so that people can make a living without cutting down trees of the forest. In Karnataka, we have advanced tree planting efforts by working hand in hand with the local people and, at the same time, promoting projects that also create means to overcome poverty.
In addition, sewerage facilities have been constructed and repaired to clean up Mother Ganges, water supply and sewerage facilities have been established in Bangalore, and purification of the water in Hussain Sagar Lake in the middle of Hyderabad have all been undertaken by means of Japan’s strong hope for India to be blessed with pure water.
Through these projects you will come to know the wishes that Japanese people hold for India. The Japanese are a people who treasure their forests and cherish their abundant water. What’s more, the Japanese are also aware that the people of India have an acute sensitivity through which they perceive life in every tree and every blade of grass and read spirituality into all of creation. With Japanese and Indians both holding the natural world in such great reverence, it is impossible not to believe that the people of our nations share something in common.
We, the people of Japan, hope strongly that the Indian people will nurture their forests and enable them to thrive and also be able to enjoy the blessings of an abundance of clean water. That is why cooperation from Japan in the form of ODA invariably includes items to assist in forest conservation and water quality improvement, year in and year out.
Not long ago I presented to the world an initiative to address global warming entitled “Cool Earth 50.” Under this initiative, I proposed to cut global emission of greenhouse gases by 50% from the current level by the year 2050.
I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to you regarding this proposal. I would like to work together with India towards the target of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050”.
The post-Kyoto framework I have envisioned would include all major emittes, and in that sense it would have to move beyond the current Protocol. The framework must be flexible and diverse, taking into consideration the circumstances of each country. And the structure must achieve compatibility between environmental protection and economic growth by utilizing advances in technologies to the greatest extent possible.
It is to you, the representatives of the Indian people, to whom I am appealing. There is no nation on earth for whom leading the fight against climate change would be so entirely fitting, because no people has had a harmonious coexistence with nature so central to their philosophy throughout history as the people of India.
I urge you to walk with us down this difficult but unavoidable road where we strive to strike a balance between economic growth and fight against climate change. Of course, the assistance that Japan would be able to offer can be expected to be of some significance, particularly in the field of energy efficiency related technology.
As I mentioned a few moments ago, there are close to 200 executives from major Japanese companies who have accompanied me on this visit. They are now, at this very moment, holding a forum with Indian business leaders and discussing ways to strengthen relations between our countries.
In consideration of this, it is incumbent upon me to urge the Japanese negotiators to work to conclude promptly a comprehensive and high-quality economic partnership agreement between Japan and India, which will set an example for the world. I likewise urge the Indian side to give their support to enable the early conclusion of this agreement.
The amount of trade between our two countries will be increasing dramatically in the immediate future. It would be no mistake to say that in only the next three years, we can expect it to reach about 20 billion US dollars.
Prime Minister Singh has demonstrated great enthusiasm in executing plans to connect Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata with a freight corridor totalling 2,800 kilometres in length, with average speed to be 100 km per hour. In two months, final reports of the feasibility studies will be drawn up. This is a project of tremendous significance, and Japan is actively considering means for financial assistance.
Furthermore, Japan and India are now engaged in a wide-ranging discussion upon the so-called Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, for which the Dedicated Freight Corridor will serve as its backbone. I would like my government to closely cooperate with the Indian side particularly toward the establishment of a dedicated fund that should help bring about the Industrial Corridor.
This evening, I will be meeting with Prime Minister Singh, and we will be discussing the roadmap by which we can chart the direction in which relations between Japan and India should proceed. I believe that after our discussions, we will likely be able to make an announcement about our progress.
What I would like to convey to you, the representatives of the citizens of India, is that Prime Minister Singh and myself are steadfastly convinced that “Japan-India relationship is blessed with the largest potential for development of any bilateral relationship anywhere in the world.” We are also in perfect agreement that “a strong India is in the best interest of Japan, and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India.”
Now, as this new “broader Asia” takes shape at the confluence of the two seas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, I feel that it is imperative that the democratic nations located at opposite edges of these seas deepen the friendship among their citizens at every possible level.
With that in mind, I have decided that over the next five years, we will welcome to Japan 500 Indian youth per year, out of which about 100 will be allocated for those studying Japanese or teaching Japanese. This is precisely an investment towards future generations.
Moreover, this is not only an investment for the two countries but also for the future of this new “broader Asia”. It is an attempt to bring about freedom and prosperity in the world as well as “coexistence” between different peoples, as Vivekananda preached.
The friendship that unites India and Japan will no doubt touch the deepest soul of the people of our two countries; of this I am convinced.
It was exactly 50 years ago that my grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, became the first Japanese Prime Minister ever to visit India. Then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru brought my grandfather to an outdoor “civic reception” at which tens of thousands of people had gathered, introducing him to a crowd energetically saying, “This is the Prime Minister of Japan, a country I hold in the greatest esteem.” This is a story I heard as a little boy from my grandfather. As the leader of a defeated nation in a war, he must have been very much delighted.
Kishi was also the Prime Minister who launched Japan’s first post-war ODA. Japan was then still a poor country herself, but as a matter of honour we wanted to provide ODA. At that time, the country that had accepted Japan’s ODA was none other than India. My grandfather never forgot that fact either.
I know that the Indian Parliament without fail offers prayers every year on the day which atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. And over the years, the children of Japan have been sent four elephants as a gift from your country.
Prime Minister Nehru kindly gave Japan an elephant that bore the name of his daughter Indira. Since that time the government of India has donated three other elephants to Japanese zoos in total, and each of these has a name that is hard to forget: Arsha (“hope”), Daya (“benevolence”), and Suriya (“the sun”).
Suriya arrived in Japan in May 2001, just as Japan was struggling to wrest itself from a grinding recession. Suriya was our reminder that “the sun will indeed rise again”.
For all of these things, please allow me to extend my sincere gratitude on behalf of the people of Japan.
In closing today, let me pose a brief question to you. When Japanese people come to India, what do you think they almost invariably marvel at?
It is none other than Indian dancing, such as the “Bharatanatyam” and “Kathak dance”, in which the contrasts of the static and the dynamic are lively and brilliant. The breathing of the dancers and the musicians match perfectly at the culmination of incredibly delicate rhythms, as if scripted that way. Watching it, one can hardly help but think that it is a result of very complex computations.
We, India and Japan, want to become partners who exhibit just this type of perfect match with each other. No, let me state here that we most certainly can become just such partners.
Thank you for your time. It was a true honour to be able to address you today.
See more at: https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/pmv0708/speech-2.html
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