Abe bats for India-Japan-US cooperation to secure sea lanes

The Japanese leader said that with its plans of having a three aircraft carrier Navy, India can keep the Asian sea lines stable and such a step can assure Vietnamese, Americans, South Koreans "if not the Chinese".

Abe said that the Americans have been providing "safety and stability" to sea lanes of commerce since the 1950s but expressed concerns over the fact that the "hegemon may get skinny and its muscle weaker".

"I shall put it that way that let 'Popeye' eat spinach for a while. In the meantime, let us India and Japan work together with the Americans, so that there will be no strategic void," he said, while addressing a gathering at the Sapru House.

Abe was speaking on the topic 'Two democracies meet at sea: For a better and safer Asia'.

Abe said if India and Japan worked "hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, the Indonesians will join us, not to mention all other freedom loving nations.

"Let us work even more closely together with the US, Australia and other maritime democracies to invest in building a robust, open, liberal and safe and stable East Asia Summit-led Asia," he said.

Pointing out that China will remain both an "opportunity and a risk" for a long time to come, he said the US is destined to become weaker in relative terms.
"But let us not be confused and jump into the wrong bandwagon and choose a wrong partner. In America, we see the oldest democracy. In China, we see an autocracy, both the oldest and newest in the making as it is still in the making," the former Prime Minister said.

Abe said, "There is no question which side we Japan and India should take. Yet in times of financial challenges, the US needs us as much as we need it.

"You can shelve your American shyness for a moment and let your realist-pragmatist side prevail. After all, America dropped no bomb on you," Abe said.

He urged India to use Japan to strengthen relations with the US saying, "We are ready and willing to be used by India to enhance your ties with America."

Asking the navies of India and Japan to meet "more often", Abe said, "Whenever the Japanese navy passes across the Indian Ocean either on their way for duty or their way home (from anti-piracy operations off Somalia), they can perform simple exercises.

"The Americans may watch us performing small exercises, which is OK with all of us. Even the Chinese may fly over us to see what is going on, which is more than welcome."

He suggested that Indian navy and Bollywood stars would be welcome to visit Japanese base in Djibouti and in turn, Japanese officers can visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

"We should take pictures and movies about the exercises at sea, your visits to Djibouti and our calls to Andaman and publish them to the world because allies should not be shy about the such things, and for alliance management, publicity counts," he said.

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