Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he is still planning to visit India next week despite several news reports indicating he was considering canceling his trip amid violent protests in India’s northeast over a new citizenship law.
Abe was earlier scheduled to begin his visit on Sunday and had been slated to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Assam, one of the regions where demonstrations have turned violent. The talks will be the 16th between the two leaders. A cancellation would be a blow to Abe’s policy of cultivating ties with India to balance out China’s growing power in the region.
India’s new Citizenship Amendment Bill that was approved on Wednesday changed the rules governing the granting of citizenship to undocumented migrants to include religion as a criterion. It bars undocumented Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan from seeking citizenship, while allowing their counterparts from other religions to do so.
In recent days, angry protests have erupted in Assam with thousands clashing with police amid concerns the new laws may lead to an influx of migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. There have also been demonstrations in other northeastern states including Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura, forcing the government to send in hundreds of soldiers to aid local police.
When asked whether the trip would go ahead, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said earlier Friday that there was a need to pay close attention to local conditions.
(With assistance from Emi Nobuhiro)