Indo-Japanese defence ties, joint naval drill

Tokyo: India and Japan are to hold their first bilateral naval exercises next year and have agreed to boost military cooperation, in line with Tokyo`s desire to upgrade defence ties with New Delhi to balance China`s growing maritime assertiveness. Boosting defence ties was one of the major issues to figure in high-level talks between the visiting Defence Minister A K Antony and his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Ichikawa.

Details of the naval exercises between Japan`s maritime defence forces and the Indian navy expected to be held next year would be worked out in future discussions. The decision to hold joint naval exercises comes in the wake of moves by Japan to counter China`s increasing aggressiveness in the South China Sea where tensions have risen between Chinese and other littoral countries.

The two countries have also decided to hold joint exercises between their armed forces alongside enhancing their combined anti-piracy efforts. During the day-long delegation level talks with his Japanese counterpart, Antony said military ties between the two countries are "transparent" and "geared towards peace and prosperity of the region" and hoped that in future, the India-Japan defence cooperation will scale new heights.

The two sides "recognised the importance of sea lanes and decided to actively pursue consultations and cooperation in the field of maritime security both bilaterally and in association with all other countries in the region", Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

The two sides will implement exchanges on peacekeeping operations including exchanges between International Peace Cooperation Training and Exercise Unit of the Central Readiness Force of GSDF and Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK), India, Kar added.

The Indian delegation included Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, Indian Ambassador to Japan, Aloke Prasad, Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral R K Dhowan and Central Army Commander Lt Gen V K Ahluwalia.