Expanded Indo-Japanese military cooperation dangerous for Asia

By Lü Yaodong Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-5 19:33:01

There has been a clear trajectory of Japan and India deepening their defense ties in recent years and the relations are bound to be promoted since India will include Japan in the Malabar naval exercises with the US in October. The two countries are also exploring the possibility of air exercises.
Japanese defense sources quoted by Indian newspaper The Economic Times in late July voiced their satisfaction with the development of bilateral military ties.

Meanwhile, the expectations of the Indian side go beyond the military to defense manufacturing. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been vigorously promoting the "Make in India" campaign since he took office in May 2014.

With eyes on a rising China, India and Japan have been getting closer faster. In April, India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar chose Japan as the destination of his first overseas visit in a way to demonstrate the importance that New Delhi attaches to enhanced defense and security cooperation with Tokyo.

Although China has reiterated its firm commitment to peaceful development and has proven it in practice, the second and third largest military spenders in Asia still apparently tend to work together in countering China.

Besides, the two have their own considerations in growing closer. Tokyo considers the maritime passage a critical lifeline for its energy security, and wants to get involved in the disputes in the South China Sea in an ostentatious manner, although it has already had disputes with China over the Diaoyu Islands on the East China Sea.

Japan joined the Malabar exercises, traditionally a bilateral drill by India and the US, at the invitation of India in July 2014. Before that, the last times it joined the exercises were in 2007 and 2009. This year's participation makes clear Japan's underlying intention to build a maritime cooperation alliance in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, India as an emerging country is keen to gain Japan's support in developing its military strength and is advancing its procurement of 12 ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft from Japan. New Delhi has its own maritime strategic perceptions that share some common interests with Tokyo.

Military and security cooperation has gradually stood out in the bilateral relations between India and Japan. In the future, the joint exercises of Japan, India and the US, which share similar aims, will likely become a regular mechanism.

Moreover, after relaxing its self-imposed arms export embargo earlier this year, Japan, eager to open new markets for its defense companies, will have more cooperation in military equipment export with India that keenly seeks to improve its military capabilities.

China, India and Japan are widely considered as the three pillars of the new Asian continent.

When meeting with Parrikar, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that a strong India-Japan partnership not only serves the national interests of the two but also is important for peace and stability in the region.

However, it is in fact the other way around. Maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific serves the interests of all the countries in the region. Japan has attempted to follow the steps of its ally the US and meddle in the affairs of East and South Asia, and its expanded military cooperation with India is surely no good sign for the region.

If Tokyo continues on this path, it will certainly pose serious threats to the regional security and even dampen the common development of the region. Japan and India have to be careful about it.

The author is director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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