Japan for more naval exercises with India

Deputy PM's call likely to raise hackles in China

Japan for  more naval exercises with India

Japan has called for more regular joint naval exercises with India stressing that Asia’s “two largest maritime democracies” should step up cooperation “to become net providers of regional security”.

The move has come at a time when both  countries are embroiled in escalating territorial disputes with China.

Referring to the joint exercise the navies of India and Japan held last year, Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said the two countries should have more such drills regularly.

“The more the two coast guards and the two navies meet, the better the entire maritime areas will be served. Why? Because, both of us are well developed, seasoned democracies,” said Aso, delivering a lecture on “Japan-India Global Strategic Partnership” in New Delhi on Saturday.

His call for more intense maritime security cooperation between Japan and India is likely to raise hackles in China. After Japan recently announced its plan to hold naval exercises with US next month, Beijing called the move a “provocative action”.
Aso on Saturday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is set to visit Tokyo later on May 27-28 for a meeting with his new Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.

“India and Japan are both maritime democracies. What happens in the Western Pacific should affect your (India’s) interests. What happens in the Indian Ocean Region should affect the interests of my country,” said Japanese Deputy Prime Minister. “Most importantly, we both know that we must be good stewards of freedom of movement.”

Both Japan and China claim sovereignty over islands known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese. Tensions between the two simmered late last month, as eight surveillance vessels from China’s State Oceanic Administration entered the waters around Senkaku or Diaoyu to monitor the movements of the Japanese fishing boats sailing around the islands with right-wing activists aboard.

India’s boundary row with China too off late escalated tension between the two neighbours after the soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and People’s Armed Police Force transgressed the disputed Line of Actual Control at Depsang Bulge in Ladakh on April 15 and pitched tents in what New Delhi claims as its own territory.

Though the two countries have been trying to resolve the situation, the continuing stand-off has now cast cloud over External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing on May 9 and that of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India to New Delhi later this month.

Japan’s new government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has taken a hard-line approach on his country’s territorial disputes with China.

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