India, Japan to strengthen defense relationship

In a recent meeting between India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and visiting Japanese Senior Vice-Minister of Defence Akinori Eto, both the nations discussed on the possibilities of expanding the defence ties, which will include joint development and production of defence equipment.
It must be noted that Japan, which normally has strict rules prohibiting international trade in defence equipment, has offered to sell India the ShinMaywa US-2, a highly sophisticated amphibious plane.

Current defence ties between India and Japan:

The current defence collaboration between the India and Japan primarily involves joint exercises, innumerable rounds between the Coast Guards and plans for an expanded second-ever interaction between the navies later this year.

Why Japan is strict on defence equipment trade?

In 1967 Japan voluntarily gave up international trade in defence equipment under the “Three Principles on Arms Exports.”
These principles are:

  1. No exports of arms to communist countries
  2. No exports of arms to countries under U.N. sanctions
  3. No exports of arms to countries engaged in international conflicts.

Nine years later, Japan added a ban on arms-related facilities and technologies to the list.

What are the changes in Japanese defence equipment sales policy now?

Now, Japan has relaxed some of the defence equipment sale norms. India intends to take the advantage of this opportunity and could become the second country after the U.S. to gain from this. Australia and some European countries are already serenading Japan after it announced some exemptions in overseas transfer of defence equipment in 2011.
Instead of simply buying the finished product, both sides will be looking at transfer of technology of some of the parts to Indian companies. The intention is to replicate a Maruti-Suzuki kind of venture. India feels the move to provide some of the inputs from India would benefit both sides because costs are high in Japan.