AHMEDABAD: The Indo-Japanese friendship and partnership during the COVID-19 crisis is more relevant for global stability and prosperity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday and called for further strengthening of the ties between the two countries.
The PM was speaking after virtually inaugurating a Japanese Zen garden and Kaizen Academy set up at the premises of the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) here.
In his address via video conference, Modi said the opening of the Zen garden and the Kaizen Academy here “is a symbol of the spontaneity and modernity of relations between India and Japan”.
“The current Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, is a very straight-forward person. PM Suga and I believe that during the time of this COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Indo-Japanese friendship and our partnership has become even more relevant for global stability and prosperity. Today, when we are facing several global challenges, it is the need of the hour that our friendship and relationship get stronger day by day,” Modi said.
He said efforts like setting up of the Kaizen Academy are a beautiful reflection of this relationship.
“We also have a strong belief in centuries-old cultural ties, and a common vision for future. Based on this, we have been continuously strengthening our special strategic and global partnership over the years. For this, we have also made a special arrangement of ‘Japan Plus’ (team of officials to promote greater Japanese investments in India) in the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office),” he said.
‘Zen-Kaizen’ at the AMA seeks to showcase several elements of Japanese art, culture, landscape and architecture.
It is a joint endeavour of the Japan Information and Study Centre at AMA and the Indo-Japan Friendship Association (IJFA), Gujarat, supported by the Hyogo International Association (HIA), Japan, a release earlier said.
Modi said this occasion of the launch of the Zen garden and Kaizen Academy is a “symbol of the spontaneity and modernity of India-Japan relations”.
The PM said he is confident that this will further strengthen the relationship between India and Japan, bringing citizens of the two countries closer.
“I would like the Kaizen Academy to spread the work culture of Japan in India, and increase business interaction between the two countries. We also have to give new energy to the efforts already going on in this direction. I am sure our efforts will continue like this, and India and Japan will together reach new heights of development,” he said.
Talking about former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Modi said relations between the two countries gained a new impetus when Abe had visited Gujarat.
He was very excited when the work of the (Mumbai-Ahmedabad) bullet train project started, the PM said.
“Even today, when I talk to him, he remembers his Gujarat tour,” he said.
Modi also said India and Japan have been devoted to external progress and prosperity, as much as the importance given to internal peace and progress by the two countries.
He said the Japanese Zen garden is “a beautiful expression of this quest for peace, this simplicity.”
Modi said the peace, ease and simplicity that the people of India have learnt through yoga and spirituality for centuries, they will see a glimpse of the same here.
“What is ‘Zen’ in Japan is ‘dhyan’ (meditation) in India,” he said.
“This is the meditation that Buddha gave to the world. And as far as the concept of ‘Kaizen’ is concerned, it is a living proof of the strength of our intentions in the present, of our will to move forward continuously,” he said.
Modi said he would like the Kaizen Academy to promote the work-culture of Japan in India, and increase business interactions between the two countries.
“We have to give new energy to the efforts that are already going in this direction, like the Indo-Japan student exchange programme between the Gujarat University and the Otemon Gakuin University of Osaka. This programme has been strengthening our relationship for over five decades. This can be further expanded. Such partnerships can be done between the two countries and also between institutions,” he said.
Modi also talked about the relationship between Japan and Gujarat, and recalled that as the then chief minister of Gujarat, he had given special emphasis on Kaizen in the state, which was then used in administrative training, the state education education system as well as reforms in the health department.
He said after becoming the prime minister, he took the experience from Kaizen to Delhi and started it in the PMO and other departments of the central government.
“The affection of the people of Japan, their working style, their skills, their discipline, have always been influencing. And that’s why whenever I said I wanted to create a mini-Japan in Gujarat, the main sentiment behind it was that whenever the people of Japan come to Gujarat, they should see the same warmth, the same belongingness,” he said.
He said Japan joined as the partner country of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit since the very beginning, and even today, the largest delegation is from Japan.
“We are all satisfied to see the confidence that Japan has reposed in Gujarat, in the power of its people,” Modi said.
He said more than 135 Japanese companies are working in Gujarat, in sectors including automobile, banking, construction, and pharma.
These companies are also helping in imparting skill-development to the youth of Gujarat, he added.