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Eyeing China, India and Japan Vow Closer Military Ties


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Look out, China: your two biggest rivals in Asia are growing closer together. The Japanese defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, on a multi-day trip to India, had a warm and sympathetic conversation with his counterpart in Delhi today. The Times of India reports:


With an eye firmly on China, India and Japan on Monday decided to further consolidate and strengthen their strategic and global partnership in the defence arena through measures ranging from regular joint combat exercises and military exchanges to cooperation in anti-piracy, maritime security and counter-terrorism.


An unnamed official elaborated: The two ministers extensively and frankly exchanged ideas regarding regional and global security challenges, as well as bilateral defence cooperation and exchanges. They shared views on issues relating to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region, said an official.

The meeting comes amid warming military ties between Chinas two biggest rivals. During the coming year, Japan and India will hold their fourth Defence Policy Dialogue, third 2 plus 2″ Dialogue, and third joint naval exercise. Japan will play host to the Indian defense minister, and the two ministers have said they hope for deeper cooperation between their air forces.



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India’s Struggling Military Gets Major Boost From Japan


The details are still being worked out, but it looks like India is about to become the first country since World War II to buy military aircraft from Japan. This is big news not just for Japan, which is experiencing a revival under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but also for India as it tries to keep pace with a rapidly developing Chinese military.


India intends to buy 15 ShinMaywa Industries amphibious aircraft at a cost of about $110 million each, Reuters reports. “The plane has a range of over 4,500 km (2,800 miles), which will give it reach far into Southeast Asia from the base where the aircraft are likely to be located, in the Andaman and Nicobar island chain that is near the western tip of Indonesia.” India established itself as the world’s biggest arms importer last year.


Building deeper military ties between India and Japan suits both countries. For Japan it helps the economy emerge from years of sluggish growth, and for Abe this deal is a landmark in his quest to revive Japan’s sense of regional strength. India and Japan are the two largest and most powerful of China’s rivals, and cooperating to balance the tiger in the room is a no-brainer.



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Chinese Navy Sharpening Its Knives in Indian Ocean



Flanked by two destroyers, the Changbaishan, China’s largest amphibious landing ship, conducted drills around the Indian Ocean, eventually making its way to the western Pacific Ocean. Livemint reports:



It said they reached the Indian Ocean on 29 January and carried out a series of drills on the themes of counter-piracy, search and rescue, and damage control.

Although not directly targeted at India, the exercises underscore China’s competition with the other Asian giant.



As always, China’s goals with these “drills” go far beyond mere military practice. Most notably, the conducting the drills in the Indian Ocean is a direct challenge to India’s hegemonic aspirations in its own backyard. Befriending countries in the Indian Ocean like Sri Lanka and the Maldives is one thing, but bringing actual military vessels that conduct “emergency responses” is quite another.


The route the ships took was also a statement—not just to India but to all the countries that have border disputes with China, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan. The message is this: China is not afraid of confrontation, and will not hesitate to send its navy to anywhere in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, let alone the South China Sea.

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