TOKYO – DELHI CLOSER THAN EVER BEFORE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
His Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan has graciously condescended to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations of India on 26 January 2014. This is the first time ever that a dignitary of Japan will grace the most important event taking place in New Delhi. Indeed Emperor Akihito of Japan is the first Head of State of Japan to visit the land of the Buddha in November 2013. Of course, he had visited our country fifty years ago as the Crown Prince along with crown Princess Michiko fifty years ago on their honeymoon. They are the darling of the people of India, the first ever Royals from the land of the Rising Sun to visit the ancient country, Bharat, twice.
Now it will be the first time ever that Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe will be the centre of attraction as the Chief Guest at the State ceremonies commemorating the founding of the Republic of India on 26th January 1950. Indeed Japan and India are now closer to each other than ever before spiritually, culturally, politically and may be militarily. The ever going closeness between the two great nations is not a transplanted sapling but a centuries old banyan tree with deep roots. The Thoughts of Gautam Buddha, a great son of Bharat or India had reached the shores and hinterland of Japan through China in the sixth century AD. The spiritual relationship between the two great peoples has grown from strength to strength in the past millennium and a half. The growing number of dazzling white Shanti Stupas ushering in international peace are indicative of the mutual love, understanding and friendship between the peoples of India and Japan.
Shanti Stupas may be seen all over from the heights of Leh-Ladak to the plains of Delhi and onwards to the shores of seas and the Indian Ocean. They make the warring world aware of the loving bonds of Spiritualism between peoples of the Land of Buddha and the Rising Sun.
SECOND WORLD WAR
Peace is ushered in to apply soothing balm to the injuries, both physical and mental, of the war ravaged people. The Second World War fought from 1939 to 1945 saw the British India and Japan on the opposite sides of the dividing line. Yet the yearning of the two nations to be on the same side in the modern Mahabharat saw the birth of the Indian National Army or the Azad Hind Fauj when the Japanese soldiers and Indian soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder against the British imperialists in the rough and tumble of Burma to reach the goal – India free from the foreign yoke. The Indian Jawans were fortunate enough to touch the sacred soil of their motherland in the state of Manipur in India. Indeed the military history of the period has recorded that the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army rendered all help, moral and material, to the fledgling Azad Hind Fauj fighting under the leadership of a great son of the soil, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
I have had the honour and privilege of attending many functions as a commentator of the electronic media when the two countries commemorated the cooperation and solidarity of the two armies who fought bravely braving privations and hardships, rigours of terrain, paucity of ration and ammunition. There never was a divide or schism between the military leaders of the two armies of Japan and the then government of free India quartered in the islands of Andaman and Nicobar under Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The friendship born under adverse circumstances for a common cause, independence of India from the shackles of the British imperialism, weathered stormy situations and came off with flying colours. The three cheers led by the Prime Minister of free India from the ramparts of the Red Fort Delhi, JAI HIND is a proud legacy of the Indian National Army right from its birth in Singapore with the help of the Government of Japan.
I do recall what I saw and heard as a teenager the scenario at the Red Fort where the Court Martial trials of our proud freedom fighters in uniform of the INA were stage managed by the British Indian Army and patriots were sentenced to death. Of course, it was the growing pressure of the people of India, who were at the threshold of freedom that made the Viceroy in New Delhi commute the death sentence to life imprisonment and indeed they walked into the fresh air of free India on 15th August 1947.
15th August has a historical significance for the Japanese nation too. When the cruel leadership of the United States had dropped the first ever atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the first week of August 1945, Emperor Hirohito of Japan had no choice but to order the Imperial Japanese armed forces to surrender and end the cruelty to people. The Generals of the Allied Powers, particularly General Douglas McArthur had chosen the date of surrender as 15th August on board the USS Missouri. Unfortunately it was that date chosen by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Viceroy of India, to transfer power from the British to the Indians. That date has no significance in the freedom movement of the people of India. Nevertheless the date 15th August makes the peoples of India and Japan partners in adversity etched in the world history.
POLITICAL SCENARIO NOW
We the people of India draw great inspiration from the people of Japan. We have been friends through thick and thin, both in war and peace. After the great human disaster that struck Japan in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Americans, Japan had the moral courage and strength to rise again from the ashes like the Phoenix. The great impact that our Japanese brethren have made on the world economy is indeed worth emulating. The car companies of Japan, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, not forgetting Suzuki – the great partner of our Indian Maruti are now household words in India. They have revolutionized the transport system of the Indian middle class thereby cementing the existing friendship between the two great peoples.
The Self Defence Forces of Japan have shown the way how to get free from the constraints of a foreign imposed constitution of the country forbidding rise of Japan as a military might. The Japanese soldier, sailor and airman are known as an epitome of discipline and military efficiency. The Sun on the flag of modern Japan is carried by the Japanese Navy across the seven seas and great oceans of the world, not as an imperialist occupation force but as messengers of Peace under the aegis of the United Nations. The Air Force is ever ready to safeguard the skies over Japan and also undertake missions to prove that the imperialistic claims of a neighbouring giant over some islands will not be allowed to go unchallenged. Indeed India stands with Japan in carrying the flag of Peace and Friendship with Japan in an eternal quest of the Shangrilla sans wars.
When Shri Sinzo Abe is in India that is Bharat for the Republic Day festivities the two countries will have many more topics on the agenda to compare notes about. Prime Minister Abe is the hero of the youth. He is the first Prime Minister of Japan who was born after the Second World War was over. Born on September 21, 1954 in capital city, Tokyo, he has had the privilege of ascending the high pedestal of Prime Minister’s office twice; first in 2006-2007 and again in 2012 till the present day. Indeed we wish him a long innings at the political wicket both nationally and internationally. Indeed running a high office is in his blood. His grandfather, Kishi Nobasuke was Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960.
Educated in the University of California-Los Angeles, Abe wears his liberalism on the sleeves. He practices what he preaches. No wonder he had joined the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and won a seat in the Lower House of the Diet or the Japanese Parliament. Rising up the political ladder was just a question of time.
Shinzo Abe is a true nationalist too. Despite China and South Korea crying hoarse, he visited Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to the war dead of Japan. Indeed he did the right thing to pay obeisance to those brave patriots who lived and died for Japan. The Immortal Soldier died so that the future generations of Japan live and breathe air of Freedom.
The international political analysts surmise that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will proceed forward with one goal in sight: to make Japan a great country. He aims at achieving the noble goal by reforming the economic system and empowering the military which in turn will empower the people of Japan and make the motherland a force to reckon with. Abe will indeed earn a place of honour for Japan in the comity of nations where India will ever be keen to be counted as friends.
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