NEW DELHI: The Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was not keen on bringing Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s ashes to India from the Renkoji temple and discouraged the Japanese government from raising the issue during a meeting between Singh and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December 2006. This was revealed in a secret document declassified by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) along with 49 others on Tuesday.
According to the PMO file, Abe, who is still Japan’s PM, wanted to raise the issue of returning the purported ashes of Netaji to India, a move supported by Yoshiro Mori, former Japanese PM, and Anita Pfaff, Netaji’s daughter. An MEA note said the Japanese Ambassador had discussed the matter with Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs on October 12, 2006.
“Joint Secretary (EA) discouraged the idea and suggested if necessary, the matter could be discussed at the official level during the preparations for PM’s visit. The Japanese Ambassador took note of the suggestion but remarked the ashes could not remain in Japan indefinitely,” the note said.
It goes on to say that India had been providing financial assistance to the Renkoji temple in Tokyo since 1967 for the upkeep of the urn and so far, a total of `53 lakh had been given to it. Since 2002, an annual contribution of Yen 1 million is being provided. The 96-page file shows that the UPA government was not keen to bring the ashes to India despite repeated requests from the Japanese and Netaji’s daughter. In fact, a meeting between the then National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and then PM Singh decided that Netaji’s ashes would be moved from the Renkoji temple to the new Chancery premises of the Indian Embassy in Tokyo. Singh had approved the decision. An internal PMO note, however, warned that if the government accepted the physical custody of the ashes, the issue of the appropriateness of housing them in Japan and not interring them in a fitting national memorial in India would arise.
“Shifting the ashes to the Chancery without a plan to bring them back to India could create difficulties. Shifting the ashes to the Indian Chancery premises will also recognise that the ashes are those of Netaji,” the PMO file noted.
The MEA had also suggested to Singh that while replying to Mori’s letter, he should not promise any action in bringing Netaji’s ashes to India.
What’s in the files
■ Japan PM Abe wanted to raise issue of returning purported ashes of Netaji at a meeting with Manmohan in December 2006
■ UPA govt discouraged the idea prompting the Japanese to say the ashes couldn’t remain in Japan forever
■ Manmohan and then NSA later decided to shift the ashes from Renkoji temple to the Indian embassy
■ But didn’t do so after an internal PMO note warned it could create difficulties