Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday paid a heartful tribute to his "dear friend" late ex-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was shot on Friday during an election campaign in the Western Japanese city of Nara.

PM Modi in a blog "My Friend, Abe San" said, "In the passing away of Abe, Japan and the world have lost a great visionary. And, I have lost a dear friend." He referred to him as "San" which means "Dear" and said that he met Abe in 2007.

"I first met Abe San in 2007 and since then, we have had so many memorable interactions. I will cherish each of them. Abe San energised the India-Japan relationship. He ensured that Japan is there side by side as New India accelerates its growth," wrote PM Modi in his blog.

He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when met Abe. "Right from that first meeting, our friendship went beyond the trappings of office and the shackles of the official protocol," said PM Modi.

PM Modi also shared his bonhomie with Abe during his visit to Toji temple in Kyoto, train journey on the Shinkansen, visit the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, the Ganga Aarati in Kashi, the elaborate tea ceremony in Tokyo, adding that the list of "our memorable interactions is indeed long."

The Prime Minister also cherished his singular honour of having been invited to Abe's family home in Yamanashi prefecture, nestled among the foothills of Mt Fuji.

Talking about the strong bond between them, PM Modi said, "Even when he was not the Prime Minister of Japan between 2007 and 2012, and more recently after 2020, our personal bond remained as strong as ever. Every meeting with Abe San was intellectually stimulating. He was always full of new ideas and invaluable insights on governance, economy, culture, foreign policy, and various other subjects."

He also thanked Abe for his counsel that inspired him in making economic choices for Gujarat. "And, his support was instrumental in building Gujarat's vibrant partnership with Japan," said PM Modi.

"Later on, it was my privilege to work with him to bring about an unprecedented transformation of the strategic partnership between India and Japan. From a largely narrow, bilateral economic relationship, Abe San helped turn it into a broad, comprehensive one, which not only covered every field of national endeavour but became pivotal for our two countries and the region's security. For him, this was one of the most consequential relationships for the people of our two countries and the world. He was resolute in pursuing the civil nuclear agreement with India - a most difficult one for his country - and decisive in offering the most generous terms for the High-Speed Rail in India. As in most important milestones in independent India's journey, he ensured that Japan is there side by side as New India accelerates its growth," added PM Modi.

He also hailed Abe for his contribution to India-Japan relations which was richly recognised by the conferment upon him of the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2021.
He also lauded Abe for his long-sightedness.

"Abe San had a deep insight into the complex and multiple transitions taking place in the world, the vision to be ahead of his time to see its impact on politics, society, economy and international relations, and the wisdom to know the choices that were to be made, the capacity to make clear and bold decisions even in the face of conventions and the rare ability to carry his people and the world with him. His far-reaching policies - Abenomics - reinvigorated the Japanese economy and re-ignited the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship of his people," wrote PM Modi.

Highlighting Abe's legacy, PM Modi said that the world will always be indebted for his foresight in recognising the changing tides and gathering storm of the time and his leadership in responding to it.

"Long before others, he, in his seminal speech to the Indian Parliament in 2007, laid the ground for the emergence of the Indo-Pacific region as a contemporary political, strategic and economic reality - a region that will also shape the world in this century. And, he led from the front in building a framework and architecture for its stable and secure, peaceful and prosperous future, based on values that he deeply cherished - respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, adherence to international law and rules, peaceful conduct of international relations in a spirit of equality and shared prosperity through deeper economic engagement," said PM Modi.

"As far as global leadership is concerned, Abe San was ahead of his times. The Quad, the ASEAN-led forums, the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure all benefited from his contributions," said PM Modi in his tribute.

PM Modi extended his heartfelt condolences on behalf of the people of India and his own behalf to the people of Japan, especially to Akie Abe and his family.

"I will always be indebted for his warmth and wisdom, grace and generosity, friendship and guidance, and I will miss him dearly. We in India mourn his passing as one of our own, just as he embraced us with an open heart. He died doing what he loved the most - inspiring his people. His life may have been cut short tragically, but his legacy will endure forever," wrote PM Modi.