Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's visit postponed as India witnesses violent protests over citizenship law

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe
# 13 December 2019 19:01 (UTC +04:00)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was scheduled to visit India from 15 December for a three-day summit, APA reports citing Sputnik.

During the visit, India and Japan were expected to sign a major defence pact related to logistics exchange and sharing. It was decided the summit would take place later in Assam state.

As violent protests against the Citizenship Law spread to more areas of northeast India, including Assam state, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit has been deferred.

He was due to be in India to participate in a crucial annual summit scheduled for next week. Since this is a yearly summit, it effectively means that India and Japan would have to skip it in 2019 - unless the meeting is held in the next 15 days.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that "both sides have decided to defer the visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future".

The summit was planned to take place in Guwahati, the capital city of the northeastern state of Assam. But it has been witnessing violent protests since 9 December.

The Indian government has enacted a citizenship law for non-Muslim migrants from Friday with the consent of the country's President Ram Nath Kovind on midnight on Thursday. The law provides opportunities to six religious minorities – Hindus, Parsis, Jains, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs – from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to receive Indian citizenship if they arrived in India before 2015.

Protests in northeastern states erupted, as people in the region believe that outsiders in the millions will pollute their culture, identity and take away their sources of livelihood.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told the press that there is a need to pay close attention to local conditions ahead of finalising the visit.

On Thursday, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen and the country's Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan called off their visits to India amid the agitations.

India and Japan have been negotiating the signing of a bilateral defence logistics pact, and it was expected to be signed during the visit on Monday.

The acquisition and cross-servicing agreement, or ACSA, will enable the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Indian military to share food, ammunition and other goods.