Discuss how the India-Japan defence partnership can be a win-win situation for both the countries.

Published: December 6, 2019

India and Japan maiden ‘2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting was held in New Delhi on November 30, just ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India for the 14th India-Japan Annual Summit. 

Both the Defence Minister and External Affairs Minister have had wide-ranging discussions on bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as regional & international security with their Japanese counterparts. The aim is to look at the prospects to deepen bilateral security and defence cooperation between the countries. 

It is the second 2+2 dialogue apart from that with the United States, thus it highlights the importance New Delhi assigns to its relationship with Japan which dates back to pre-Independence days. 

The aim now is to give the relationship a strategic edge. As Japan opens up its defence sector, as envisaged in its National Defence Programme Guidelines (NDPG, 2018, it could be a potential area of cooperation. India’s participation in the maiden defence and security exhibition in Tokyo, is an indicator of the increasing focus on this sector. 

Defence – 

India’s exercises with Japan include the Dharma Guardian-2019, SHINYUU Maitri-2019 and the trilateral Malabar exercise by India, Japan and the US. The point to consider is how to take this cooperation beyond exercises to discuss defence and security equipment. The discussions on Shinmaywa US-2 Aircraft going on for quite a few years hasn’t seen a major progress yet. 

Japan has however agreed to undertake a third of the aircraft’s manufacture which could result in an important step towards boosting the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The Japanese’s opening up equipment manufacturing, using their precision and time-bound completion coupled with India’s design competence, engineering and supply chain can be a win-win situation. 

Cyber security – 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and chip manufacturing could lead to trend for cooperation in cyber security and possibly result in equipment modernising. Japanese companies are known for their superior use of technology in chip-manufacturing. Even enabling 5G secured connectivity could be an area to work on. 

The India-Japan defence and strategic tie-up need to be two way unlike the US which has remained a buyer-seller one. 

Japan’s focus and budgets for equipping the country in the context of increasing regional threats is an opportunity for many Indian companies to work on mutually beneficial relations. The $12 billion ‘Japan-India Make-in-India Special Finance Facility’ fund is good step to boost confidence and the next  2+2 dialogue should see a work on the roadmap for areas of cooperation. 

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