Amid China's Aggressive Behaviour, India & Japan Agree to Enhance Military Drills and Defence Co-operation

India and Japan on Thursday agreed to enhance military exercises and defence cooperation as the two countries emphasised that the bilateral special strategic and global partnership plays a crucial role in ensuring a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific, amidst China’s aggressive behaviour in the region. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Japanese counterpart Yasukazu Hamada in Tokyo on the first day of his official visit to Japan and the two leaders reviewed various aspects of bilateral defence cooperation and regional affairs.

They also agreed to hold military drills aimed at boosting co-ordination between the air forces of the two nations. “Reviewed various aspects of bilateral defence cooperation and regional affairs during the bilateral meeting with Japan’s Minister of Defence, Mr Yasukazu Hamada in Tokyo today. This year marks 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries,” Singh tweeted.

Noting that India and Japan pursue a Special Strategic and Global Partnership, Singh said India’s defence partnership with Japan will play a crucial role in ensuring a free, open and rules-based Indo Pacific region. India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. In a statement, India’s Defence Ministry said that during the delegation-level talks, Singh highlighted that the growing complexities in the India-Japan bilateral defence exercises is a testimony to the deepening of defence cooperation between the two countries.

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He emphasised on the need to expand the scope of partnership in the field of Defence Equipment and Technological Cooperation. The minister invited Japanese industries to invest in India’s defence corridors where a conducive environment for the growth of the defence industry has been created by the Government of India, the statement said.

The two ministers expressed their commitment in continuing bilateral and multilateral exercises including Dharma Guardian’, JIMEX’ and Malabar’, it said. They welcomed the operationalisation of the Reciprocal Provision of Supply and Services Agreement during Exercise MILAN’ in March this year.

The two ministers also agreed that the early conduct of the inaugural fighter exercise will pave way for much greater cooperation and interoperability between the Air Forces of the two countries. This year marks 70 years of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.

In Tokyo, Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will join their Japanese counterparts at the ‘2+2′ foreign and defence ministerial dialogue later in the day. The 2+2 Dialogue will review bilateral cooperation across domains and chart out the way forward. The 2+2’ dialogue is taking place more than five months after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited India for the annual India-Japan summit.

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