India, Japan to conduct first ever bilateral naval exercise next year India, Japan to conduct first ever bilateral naval exercise next year TUESDAY, 11 OCTOBER 2011 With Beijing making strategic inroads into the Indian Ocean region, New Delhi and Tokyo have firmed up a plan to conduct the first ever bilateral naval exercise in the expanse by early next year, which will be part of the measures to enhance security and defence cooperation between the two. So far, Japan had been engaged only in multi-lateral naval exercises wherein India too had been a part. Defence Minister AK Antony and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will head to Japan in November this year ahead of newly elected Japanese PM Yoshihiko Nodaâ€™s visit here in December, sources said. The dates for Antony and Krishnaâ€™s visit are being worked out, the sources added. Antony, sources said, will propose a joint naval exercise between the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces (JMSDF), the naval branch of Japanese Self Defence Forces. In the wake of concerns over safety of sea lanes and rising vulnerability to disruption of supplies, India and Japan are prompted to explore avenues for joint cooperation in maritime security. India has been engaged in bilateral naval cooperation with several South East Asian countries with the primary aim of addressing maritime problems. In April this year, Japan pulled out of the trilateral Malabar Exercise between India, US and Japan at the last moment due to Fukushima nuclear crisis. Japan had earlier agreed to play host to Indian and the US naval warships by holding the exercise near the port city of Okinawa. Sources termed the first-such bilateral naval exercise and the congruence of the two defence forces as a â€œwin-win for bothâ€ even as they did not rule out the possibility of Beijing making it a major issue. But since India and Japan have increased mutual cooperation and interoperability and conformability with NATO procedures, the joint drill will bring out the best for the two nations, the sources said. India and Japan already have an enhanced security dialogue and cooperation aimed at tackling regional as well as global security challenges. There is a Comprehensive Security Dialogue, Defence Policy Dialogue and Military-to-Military Talks. There have also been enhanced Service-to-Service exchanges between defence establishments of the two countries. The annual Indian Coast Guard-Japan Coast Guard Talks were held in 2009 and 2010 and the two countries also have joint patrolling to counter piracy operations in the Malacca Straits. Chinese Navyâ€™s interest in the Indian Ocean, the worldâ€™s leading premier trade and energy seaway, is reflected by its projects in the region. From port building in Hambantota in Sri Lanka to modernisation of Chittagong port in Bangladesh to the already operational Gwadar port in Pakistan which is straight at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz (the only exit to the Persian Gulf oil). Further, China is also building Irrawaddy Corridor linking Yunnan province in China with Burmese ports on the Bay of Bengal. China has been focused on both Naval and nuclear forces modernisation for sometime too.