In a bid to step-up security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, India and Japan are paving the way to initiate new mechanisms for maritime and cyber security. As another round of strategic dialogue took place between foreign minister S M Krishna and his visiting Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba, special focus on maritime security was accorded besides cooperation to combat piracy. Both nations are also preparing for their first joint naval exercise off the coast of Japan this June.
The Japanese Minister Koichiro Gemba has reiterated the geo-political significance of India as it lies on the sea lanes of the communication linking West Asia with Japan. Japan plans to step-up the maritime security in the region to maintain the security of sea lanes of communication and facilitate unhindered trade by the sea routes. Japan is looking at India to expand cooperation in counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden as well.
During the Japanese Minister’s meet with the Indian PM Manmohan Singh, fresh dialogue mechanisms for maritime and cyber security was discussed as well. The Indian PM has also indicated that India has high expectations from the joint naval exercise to be held later.
The Indian PM and the Japanese Minister have also shared their thoughts about China and its growing presence in the Asia –Pacific region. While Chinese assertiveness was put in the back-burner during the discussions, Japan has insinuated the creation of a web of network in the Asia-Pacific to ensure rising powers were comfortable with each other. Japan has even proposed a Japan-China-US trilateral.
It may be recalled here that during the Indian Defence Minister AK Antony’s visit to Japan last year-end, various issues relating to maritime security, anti-piracy measures, freedom of navigation and maintaining the security of sea lanes were discussed. During the India-Japan Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo last year, the ministers had agreed to hold the first bilateral naval exercise in 2012 and charted out the course for future defence interactions.
India and Japan are looking at enhanced cooperation over a broad spectrum besides maritime cooperation. India and Japan discussed an entire gamut of issues including cooperation in infrastructure projects, railways and energy sectors. India and Japan also decided to take forward negotiations for civil nuclear energy cooperation. However, Japan is expected to address certain key elements before entering into this partnership.