TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that with the passing away of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his country has lost a 'good friend'.
The Japanese leader said this on Friday in his condolence message in which he described Vajpayee as a true statesman and hailed his contributions to the friendship between the two countries.
"I am deeply saddened to learn the demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee," Abe said in a message, which was shared by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Twitter.
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) August 17, 2018
Remembering Vajpayee's visit to Japan in 2001, Abe said, "On behalf of the Government and people of Japan, I would like to convey my sincerest condolences to the Government and people of India and the bereaved family. His Excellency Vajpayee visited Japan in 2001 as the then Prime Minister and made significant contributions to the friendship between our two countries as a good friend of Japan. It is him who established the cornerstone of Japan-India relations today."
Terming Vajpayee as an eminent leader of India, Abe added, "I pray from the bottom of my heart that his soul may rest in peace."
Besides Japan, The US, Russia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and several countries condoled the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Vajpayee, one of India's most charismatic leaders, who led the nation through several crises while holding together a tenuous coalition with his inclusive politics and superlative oratory, died here today at the age of 93.
The American Embassy in Delhi said in a statement that the US grieves with India on the loss of the former prime minister.
"He will be remembered for his immense contribution in bolstering US-India relations. During his tenure, Prime Minister Vajpayee advocated for a robust partnership with the United States, referring to us as 'natural allies'," it said.
The US mission in India extends its deepest condolences to the family of Vajpayee and the citizens of India, it said.
Ambassador of Russia to India Nikolay Kudashev said, "We mourn the death of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a great statesman".
Vajpayee's name became an integral part of a whole era in Indian politics, the envoy said.
"His devoted service to the nation can hardly be overestimated. Mr Vajpayee enjoyed due respect in India and globally. We knew him also as a poet, a man of knowledge and a true friend of our country, where he is well-known as one of the architects of our long-lasting and time-tested privileged strategic partnership," Kudashev said.
Japanese envoy to India Kenji Hiramatsu said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing away of former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee".
Hailing Vajpayee as one of the most inspiring world leaders, the envoy said the upswing in India-Japan relations was only possible by the initiatives started by the former Indian prime minister.
"The demise of such a great leader is a great loss not only to India but also to Japan and other part of Asia as well as the entire international community," he said.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was cremated with full state honours at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in Delhi on Friday evening. Tens of thousands of people, including top national and international leaders, joined the final procession and paid tributes.
The three-time former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna award recipient died after a prolonged illness on Thursday evening. The 93-year-old BJP stalwart breathed his last at 5.05 PM at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the national capital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and the entire Union Cabinet joined to take part in the final procession.
Later, the tricolour that was wrapped around Vajpayee`s body was removed and given to granddaughter Niharika, after which the body was handed over to the family for last rites.
Vajpayee`s adopted daughter Namita Bhattacharya, accompanied with Niharika, performed the last rites. Namita lit the funeral pyre amidst the chanting of Vedic hymns and firing of a 21-gun salute by soldiers.
President Ram Nath Kovind, PM Modi and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu led a galaxy of political leaders cutting across party lines to bid a tearful adieu to the former PM.
(With Agency Inputs)