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India and Japan to hold their first air combat exercise soon 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inspecting the guard of honour in Tokyo on Thursday (All images courtesy: PIB)

India and Japan have decided to hold their first air-combat exercises soon following the talks between visiting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Japanese counterpart Yasukazu Hamada in Tokyo today.

The 90-minute dialogue was held at the headquarters of the Japanese Defence Ministry ahead of the India-Japan 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

The Japan-India Defence Ministerial meeting welcomed the improvement in the capacity of the two militaries to work together in joint exercises. They also lauded the use of the Japan-India Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, or the ACSA.

The agreement signed between the two governments in September 2020 established the rules governing supplies and services between the Self-Defence Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces.

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The two ministers on Thursday acknowledged the importance of the India-Japan defence partnership and the critical role it will play in ensuring a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.

Quite significantly, Hamada expressed his determination to fundamentally strengthen Japan’s defence capabilities through the formulation of a new National Security Strategy.

Singh, on the other hand, highlighted that the growing complexities in the India-Japan bilateral defence exercises is a testimony to the deepening of defence cooperation between the two countries.

Welcoming the revitalization of bilateral and multilateral defence exercises such as ‘Dharma Guardian’, ‘JIMEX’ and the India-Japan-US-Australia joint exercise ‘Malabar’ being held for the second year in a row, both Singh and Hamada agreed to jointly promote efforts that safeguard the Indo-Pacific.

They also welcomed the Reciprocal Provision of Supply and Services Agreement that will become operational during Exercise ‘MILAN’ in March this year.

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Singh, in particular, emphasised the need to expand the scope of partnership in the field of Defence Equipment and Technological Cooperation. He invited Japanese industries to invest in India’s defence corridors where a conducive environment for the growth of the defence industry has been created by the Indian government under the Atmanirbhar Bharat doctrine.

The Japanese Defence Minister said that the two countries will continue to work together towards concrete cooperation in the concerned sphere.

The regional security situation, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, was also discussed during the delegation-level talks.

Both ministers agreed to work together towards a peaceful, stable and prosperous world based on a rules-based order that respects national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

With China as the elephant in the room, both ministers stressed, according to a Japanese Defence Ministry statement after the meeting, that they “must seek a peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law without resorting to the threat or use of force or unilateral attempts to change the status quo”.

As they concluded their talks, both defence ministers vowed to maintain close communication between their ministries and scout for new ventures that would strengthen the Japan-India Special Strategic Global Partnership for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Singh and Hamada also spotlighted that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India– two robust democracies which continue to play an important role in ensuring a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.

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Earlier in the day, Singh began his Tokyo visit by laying a wreath at a memorial dedicated to the personnel of the Japan Self Defense Forces who laid down their lives in the line of duty. He was also accorded a ceremonial guard of honour before the bilateral meeting with the Japanese Defense Minister.

Also Read: China on mind, India and Japan get ready for 2+2 strategic dialogue in Tokyo