Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe met for the twelfth time today since their first meeting in September 2014. The two leaders have had lunches and dinners over the last four years but this time, they got around to something that they seemed to have missed during their past meals together - chopsticks. PM Modi received chopsticks lessons on his third visit to Japan as prime minster. His instructor was Mr Abe, who called PM Modi one of his "most dependable friends" and hosted him at his holiday home in the village of Narusawa, Yamanashi.
This afternoon, PM Modi tweeted his gratitude for the warm reception. For readers back home, there was another message:
Extremely grateful to PM @AbeShinzo for the warm reception at his home. I am truly honoured by this gesture.- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 28, 2018
PM Abe also taught me the Japanese way of eating food using chopsticks! pic.twitter.com/A4Gr27rPtd
Mr Abe will host a state banquet for PM Modi tomorrow. But after PM Modi reached Japan last evening, the two leaders shared lunch and a private dinner. A tweet from PM Abe's office read:
PM Abe: I heartily welcome Prime Minister @narendramodi of India as he visits 🇯🇵. I lost no time taking him to the lakeside at Lake Yamanaka, where the autumn leaves are in their glory. After this, I will invite him to my summer house, where only the two of us will dine together. pic.twitter.com/go4BoMTwz5- PM's Office of Japan (@JPN_PMO) October 28, 2018
PM Modi is on a two-day bilateral visit to Japan, where he received a grand reception by Mr Abe. This was the first time Mr Abe invited a foreign leader to his holiday home, reciprocating PM Modi's gesture in inviting him to his home state Gujarat.
The strategic ties between the two nations had deepened with a personal touch as PM Modi had given Mr Abe a tour of Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram and Ahmedabad's famous Sidi Saiyyed mosque during the Japanese premier's visit to India in September.
"Tete-a-tete in front of a fireplace. Japanese PM @AbeShinzo hosted PM @narendramodi at his personal villa near Lake Kawaguchi in #Yamanashi. PM Modi is the first foreign leader to be invited to the villa," Foreign Ministry spokespersons Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.
After the dinner, the two leaders left for Tokyo by train. The two prime ministers spent about eight hours together, MEA officials said.
PM Modi landed in Tokyo yesterday to attend the 13th India-Japan summit. PM Modi gifted Mr Abe two handcrafted stone bowls and dhurries made from rose quartz and yellow quartz stone sourced from Rajasthan.
At the exclusive summit to be held tomorrow, the two leaders are expected to discuss cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, defence and security sectors, and leveraging Japanese capabilities for India's development initiatives.
Yesterday, underscoring the Japan-India ties over various fields - from security to technology, environment and health - Mr Abe said, "Prime Minister Modi, who is currently visiting Japan since yesterday, is one of my most dependable and valuable friends".