The bilateral relations between India and Japan have evolved steadily over the years. Both the countries have a lot of compatibility when it comes to political, economic and strategic interests, and view each other as strong partners who are ready to respond to global and regional challenges. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Premier Abe have heralded a new chapter of co-operation (be it the bullet train, infrastructure development, fighting terrorism, defence, to nuclear co-operation) that might have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
For those uninitiated, Japan’s first family has an Indian connection too. That’s Kalpana Abe – an Indian married to Isao Abe, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cousin. And no doubt her access will certainly prove useful as Japan and India start to work more on strengthening and spreading their relationship in Asia and elsewhere.
Though she is hesitant to talk about her proximity to Japan’s first family, she admits that sometimes Shinzo Abe calls her to know about family matters.
In an interview to ET, she said:
“India has a great reputation in Japan. Both Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe wanted to build the relationship because they saw India as the answer both in terms of security and economics.”
“The United States is Japan’s most important ally and India is seen as the second most important. Our cultures are also similar.”
While studying in the US, Kalpana, a Tamil born in Singapore in an upper class industrial family, fell in love with Isao. It was Isao’s commitment that impressed Kalpan to go ahead with the nuptial tie. It has been 32 years since the both have been married. They have a son and two daughters — Hyunsu Narayan, Hitomi Vidya and Hiromi Baghya. Now she feels more Japanese but says that hasn’t changed her Indianness.
Undoubtedly, she is certainly giving more teeth to Indo-Japan partnership.