India and Japan on Thursday agreed to further enhance their security and defence cooperation, including holding the first Air Force fighter exercises, as they reaffirmed their commitment to a rules-based global order that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, amidst China’s aggressive moves in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
Participating in the second India-Japan 2 2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India and Japan were committed to promoting a rules-based order, ensuring respect for international law and norms, and safeguarding the global commons.
In a joint statement after the meeting, the foreign ministers and defence ministers of the two countries emphasised the need for all countries to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law without resorting to threat or use of force or any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo.
Against the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, Mr Jaishankar noted that conflicts and climate events have further aggravated the global economic situation, creating deep anxieties in respect of energy and food security.
He also stressed the necessity of creating resilient and reliable supply chains in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
Besides Mr Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh participated in the Dialogue with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada.
“During today’s discussions, we noted the progress in the military-to-military cooperation and exchanges between the two sides. We shared a common desire to further increase the scope and complexities of our bilateral exercises,” Mr Singh told reporters in Tokyo.
“We are happy to note that our Air Forces are working closely for early conduct of the inaugural Air Force fighter exercise,” he said.
During the meeting, the Japanese side conveyed its resolve to examine all options necessary for national defence, including “counter strike capabilities.”
Japan also expressed its determination to fundamentally reinforce its defence capabilities within the next five years and secure a substantial increase of the defence budget needed to effect it.
Against the backdrop of China’s aggressive moves around Taiwan following US Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, Mr Jaishankar said: “In the face of such challenges, the case for India and Japan to collaborate more closely on foreign policy and security questions has become even stronger.”
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.
The armies of India and China are still engaged in a prolonged standoff at eastern Ladakh.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas.
China also has a maritime territorial dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.
Mr Jaishankar said strengthening the foreign policy coordination between India and Japan was essential to realise the true benefits of the substantial convergence in the interests and outlook of the two countries.
“They obviously concentrate on the Indo-Pacific but extend to many other regional, global and multilateral platforms as well,” Mr Jaishankar said.
The ministerial meeting also focussed on working together in areas of cyber security, 5G deployment and critical and strategic minerals.
Mr Jaishankar noted that India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership reflected interests and the increasing footprint that extended well beyond the immediate region.
“We have a particular responsibility for ensuring a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific. That is done through a range of policies and mechanisms, including cooperation in the Quad framework, utilization of ASEAN platforms and participation in bodies like ReCAAP, Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, etc,” he said.
“Together, we are also poised to take forward the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, amongst others,” Mr Jaishankar said.
The ministers said they had a frank and fruitful discussion on the regional and global issues of mutual interests and concerns, particularly those in the Indo-Pacific as well as Ukraine.
The ministers strongly reaffirmed what their prime ministers recently committed to in their Joint Statement of March 19, 2022 (“Partnership for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Post-COVID World”) with respect to regional and global security challenges.
The ministers of the two countries noted the progress in the defence cooperation and exchanges between the two sides and welcomed the participation of Japan for the first time in the multilateral exercise MILAN and the operationalisation of the Agreement Concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services.
The ministers expressed their commitment to continuing bilateral and multilateral exercises including “Dharma Guardian”, JIMEX and “Malabar.” The two countries also committed to seeking deeper cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster response and response to infectious diseases and pandemics.
The four ministers acknowledged the potential of the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region and looked forward to actively deepening multilateral coordination with liaison officers of other countries in the forum for enhanced maritime cooperation.
The joint statement also acknowledged the vast potential for the two countries to expand bilateral cooperation in the areas of defence equipment and technology cooperation.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)