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India is Asia's gravity point, should be more active in Quad: Japanese minister

India is Asia's gravity point, should be more active in Quad: Japanese minister

Japanese Deputy Minister of Defence, Yasuhide Nakayama, wants to see India play a bigger role in the Indo-Pacific region. In an interview to Indian news channel <em>WION</em>, Nakayama said that Japan would like to see India "commit more" towards the Quadrilateral coalition as India is Asia's gravity point.

He shared his concerns over challenges from Chinese assertiveness in the maritime zones in the region, and said it is important for like-minded countries to widen cooperation keeping in mind the Chinese threat.

The minister added that countries like Japan, India, the US and Australia understand the importance of democratic systems and prefer to have a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) region. For this purpose, Nakayama hoped that the Quad will become a more important group in times to come.

The Quad has its roots in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami in 2004 after which the Indian and the US navies collaborated in providing relief aid to the affected countries. After that Japan joined the grouping and this year Australia too joined the group. The navies of the Quad hold the Malabar naval exercises in the Indian Ocean region.

In an appeal to India, Nakayama said: "I personally know India's position and I personally request India to commit more to protect the free and open Indo Pacific region. We want a strong India. India is Asia's gravity point and is very important….We love India and we want more commitment from India towards the Quad," he said, according to the interview transcript released by <em>WION</em>.

Regarding the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the border between India and China, Nakayama said: "We would like to say that both countries should try to decrease the temperature and hopefully one day shake hands with each other…And hopefully, make peace at the border too. On the other hand, I know it is very tough…we in Japan, also have a lot of fear from the Chinese military activities. So, personally, I can understand India's feelings towards those matters. But I hope China and India take a new step forward to calm down and make peace."

He was critical of the role of China and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the coronavirus pandemic and said: "I think the Chinese government along with WHO will have to explain what is going on to the people of the world. We would want to know what happened at the original point from where the virus expanded. I think the Chinese government should put effort in explaining this to other countries."

It is now more than a year since the coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China. It spread across the world taking millions of lives and disrupting global activities in an unprecedented manner. Many countries say that China has not come clean on the origins and spread of the virus.