http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article498924.ece India-Japan ties enter strategic sphere While the United States is still considering high-tech trade with India, Japan has removed a number of Indian companies off its end user list to create the environment for closer ties in the strategic sphere. Japan's removal of 11 Indian companies from the end user list and addition of four new ones comes as both sides began talks on closer military ties and held two rounds of discussions on civil nuclear energy cooperation. For the first time, the two sides will hold a two-plus-two dialogue next week involving top bureaucrats from the Defence and Foreign Ministries. Japan has so far conducted dialogue in this format only with close allies â€” the U.S. and Australia. Improving ties with the two Far Eastern neighbours â€” South Korea and Japan â€” is part of India's revitalised â€œLook Eastâ€ policy that involves greater security and economic partnerships with these two countries, besides China, Australia and the 10 Association of South East Nations. While India has moved closer to civil nuclear partnership with South Korea, it has also made progress in this respect with Japan, which was earlier reluctant to consider such as deal with a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is also not in favour of inking several non-proliferation conventions. Pushed by Japanese majors Mitsubishi and Toshiba, which have substantial involvement in the civil nuclear sector, Tokyo is very keen not to lose the opportunity of participating in India's civil nuclear energy renaissance. With these two companies expected to benefit from Indian orders to U.S. and French companies, New Delhi and Tokyo held the first meeting of the sub-group on civil nuclear energy 90 minutes after the proposal was broached by the Japanese themselves. Security of sea lanes In return, both South Korea and Japan feel India can play an important role in quelling their uncertainties over the security of sea lanes of communication on which both depend heavily for transporting their energy requirements. Tokyo and Seoul are taking an interest in the Indian Navy initiative called the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium that sees all relevant players trying to make the seas safe. Officials say both Japan and South Korea are keen on greater military ties with India and are reciprocating by offering partnerships in civil nuclear energy that is of great interest to New Delhi. Some of the companies removed from the Japanese end users list include heavyweights such as the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian Space Research Organisation, Godrej & Boyce and Rashtriya Chemicals Limited. Even though some new entities such as the DRDO's Aeronautical Research Development Establishment have been added, the South Block is interpreting the overall reduction in the number of Indian organisations on Tokyo's proscribed list as a good development.