India and Japan on Monday decided to expand their maritime cooperation and work together to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, which is witnessing growing Chinese assertiveness, officials said.
The two countries also decided hold the first-ever joint Army exercise later this year besides deepening cooperation in co-development of military hardware and weapons.
The decisions were taken during wide-ranging talks between Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera.
The India-Japan defence dialogue came a day before Chinese defence Wei Fenghe arrives here on a four-day visit.
Officials said the two ministers also exchanged views on India’s long-pending proposal to procure the US-2 ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft from Japan for its Navy.
The two sides also firmed up a project in the area of Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) and robotics, marking the start of first such bilateral initiative.
They said Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) and the Indian Navy are working towards firming up an arrangement for deeper cooperation between the two navies.
“The ministers shared the recognition that it is important for the two countries to further strengthen defence and security cooperation under the ‘Japan-lndia Special Strategic and Global Partnership’ that aligns Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy’ with India’s ‘Act East Policy’,” a a joint press statement said.
It said Sitharaman and Onodera recognised that stability of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean are crucial for ensuring the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.
The two ministers also deliberated on the situation in Korean Peninsula.
“The ministers reaffirmed that they have shared interests in expanding cooperation in the maritime security domain and welcomed the fact that Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) and the Indian Navy are working towards the signing of the Implementing Arrangement for Deeper Cooperation between the two navies,” the statement said.
On technology sharing, it said engagement between the Acquisition, Technology and Logistical Agency (ATLA) of Japan and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has resulted in a joint project in the area of development of Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) and Robotics.
“The Ministers recognised the importance of promoting defence equipment and technology cooperation through a joint effort between the public and private sectors in order to bilaterally strengthen technological capability,” said the statement.
On India’s proposal to procure the US-2 amphibious aircraft, the statement said the ministers noted the effort made by both countries over it.