India and Japan plan more military drills to strengthen ties

The two countries also agreed to work closely together to promote a 'free and open Indo-Pacific'



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Fri 9 Sep 2022, 6:24 AM

On Thursday, India and Japan said that they would deepen defence cooperation, with New Delhi inviting investments by Japanese industries, and both countries planning a joint military drill involving their air force fighters.

India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held talks in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart Yasukazu Hamada, and both will join their respective foreign ministers later in the day for "two-plus-two" talks.

"He invited Japanese industries to invest in India's defence corridors," India's defence ministry said in a statement, referring to Singh.

"The two ministers agreed that the early conduct of the inaugural fighter exercise will pave the way for much greater cooperation and inter-operability between the air forces of the two countries," it added.

India, like Japan, is bolstering its military to tackle what it sees as increased security threats, including from neighbouring China.

In Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has promised a "substantial" defence spending increase. His ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) wants to double Japan's military budget to 2 per cent of its gross domestic product over the next five years, amidst worries that the Russia-Ukraine conflicts could embolden China to act against neighbouring Taiwan.

Delhi, which commissioned its first home-built aircraft carrier last week, is expanding its security ties with Tokyo, as both Asian nations grow wary of China's growing military might in the region.

The two countries, along with Australia and the United States are members of the Quad group of nations, and hold annual naval exercises across the Indo-Pacific to demonstrate inter-operability.

The last leaders' gathering in May in Japan was dominated by discussions about Taiwan, after US President Joe Biden had angered China a day earlier by saying that he would be willing to use force to defend the democratic island. As they met, Russian and Chinese warplanes conducted a joint patrol in the region.

In a separate bilateral meeting, Kishida and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to work closely together to promote a "free and open Indo-Pacific".

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