Defence Takes Centre Stage In India-japan Ties

Defence is emerging as a major area of partnership between a hitherto pacifist Japan and an emerging India that is seeking state-of-theart technology. Delhi and Tokyo have agreed to collaborate closely in defence production, including on dualuse technologies and PM Shinzo Abe’s visit will increase the overall military engagement under the bilateral special strategic framework.

India and Japan are also keen on research collaboration in the areas of unmanned ground vehicles and robotics. Everybody will keenly follow Thursday’s annual summit on the US-2 ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft that India wants to buy from Japan for its navy: discussions on this and subsequent production in India have been going on for the past few years. The decision by India and Japan to boost defence ties comes amid escalating tension in the region in the wake of the nuclear test by North Korea and China’s growing assertiveness in Asia.

Ahead of his India trip, Abe on Monday called for boosting the country’s defenses in the face of North Korean threats, warning that Tokyo needs to be able to protect itself. This has set the stage for furthering Indo-Japan defence collaboration amid regional challenges. Abe has long advocated a stiffening of Japan’s military posture, despite the pacifist nature of the constitution. Japan plans to introduce Aegis Ashore, a land-based version of the maritime Aegis missile-defense system against threats from North Korea.

Last week, outgoing defence minister Arun Jaitley and his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera held wide-ranging talks as part of the India-Japan annual defence ministerial dialogue in Tokyo during which issues relating to the US-2 amphibious aircraft also figured, according to officials. Last year, China had reacted angrily to reports that Japan plans to sell weapons to India at cheaper prices, saying that such a move is disgraceful.

Jaitley and Onodera had also deliberated on the current security situation in the Indo-Pacific region and condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test. The annual summit might also witness the two sides ramping up counter-terror cooperation, besides deepening engagement among navies, air forces and ground forces of the two countries. Japan has been a victim of terror attack in Bangladesh and West Asia and seeks to learn from India’s experience and expertise. India and Japan are also in the process of identifying specific areas of collaboration in the field of defence equipment and technology cooperation for production of various military platforms.

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