Undaunted India vows to prevail over terror

by Jun Hongo

India will continue to value fundamental freedoms and will emerge stronger in the face of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Indian Ambassador to Japan Hemant Krishan Singh said Tuesday.

“I can assure you that the most intensive of investigations are ongoing on what really was behind these heinous terrorist attacks,” Singh said in a speech at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

About 170 people, including 38-year-old Japanese businessman Hisashi Tsuda, were killed during last week’s coordinated terrorist attacks in the Indian financial capital.

Regardless of the unconfirmed reports that some of the gunmen were trained in Pakistan, Singh said, his country will bring those responsible to justice.

“When we find what was responsible and who was responsible, we are certainly committed to taking action” against the perpetrators, he said, adding that his country is in no way intimidated by the coordinated attacks.

While expressing condolences for Tsuda and the others killed, Singh said modern terrorism cannot be defeated unless “all freedom-loving countries like India and Japan” engage in a synchronized crackdown. Terrorism today is a global phenomenon, he said, urging all members of the United Nations to get at the roots of the funding and training of radical activists.

Japan and India made significant strategic progress in October when Prime Ministers Taro Aso and Manmohan Singh agreed in Tokyo to cooperate on protecting regional security.

They issued a joint declaration on security cooperation, agreeing to hold bilateral discussions on multiple levels and exchange information on regional security.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force is also engaged in refueling activities in the Indian Ocean to support antiterrorism efforts in the region.

“At no time is it more relevant than today, when we just think of the aftermath of the heinous terrorist attacks in Mumbai,” Ambassador Singh said of October’s declaration on security cooperation.

During his speech titled “India and Japan Through the Ages: Connecting Asia,” which was cosponsored by The Japan Times, Singh also touched on past ties and expectations for the two countries.

“India and Japan have been ‘civilizationally’ connected for almost 1,500 years,” Singh said of the rich cultural exchanges between Japan and India, showing the audience a series of artworks and temples in Japan influenced by Indian Buddhism.

He also noted that public perceptions in both countries are positive toward each other, and there are no history issues to confront. India — now the No. 1 recipient of Japanese official development assistance, with Tokyo providing help with local infrastructure construction, including the Delhi metro — is also close to signing an economic partnership agreement with Japan.

And while the two countries have strong political and economic ties, increased interaction between citizens is the key to enriching the bilateral relationship, Singh said.