Japan and India coordinate naval exercises to thwart China

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    Feb 16, 2009
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    India, Japan make common cause to thwart China's maritime moves - The Times of India

    NEW DELHI: Faced with a China that is aggressively pursuing its territorial interests in the South and East China Seas, Japan and India on Tuesday decided to coordinate moves and exercises in the first ever maritime dialogue held here.

    The India-Japan maritime dialogue was decided during a meeting of foreign ministers last April. Interestingly, India decided to hold a maritime dialogue with China over a month before the India-Japan decision. The Indian move to start talks with Japan ahead of the dialogue with Beijing points to a stress on New Delhi's security priorities.

    The Indian side was led by D B Venkatesh Varma, who leads the division on disarmament and international security in the ministry of external affairs (MEA), and included officials from ministries of defence, coast guard, shipping and earth sciences. The Japanese side was led by Kazuyuki Yamazaki, from their foreign office and comprised officials from ministries of shipping, economy, Coast Guard, etc.

    India and Japan are likely to conduct more joint naval exercises building on the first such bilateral exercise that was held off the Japanese coast last year. Similar exercises are likely in the Indian Ocean off the Somalia coast as well.

    Japan also gave an elaborate update of their simmering dispute with China on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. The new Chinese president, Xi Jinping, re-emphasized China's "core" interests in his maiden foreign policy speech on Tuesday, indicating a more "robust" posture.

    "No foreign country should ever nurse hopes that we will bargain over our core national interests, and nor should they nurse hopes that we will swallow the bitter fruit of harm to our country's sovereignty, security and development interests," Xi was quoted as saying.

    Most analysts agree that this particular dispute has the potential to spiral out of control. With India increasing its naval footprint in the South China Sea, and coming up against Chinese expansionism, particularly affecting its oil interests in that region, India appears to have made common cause with Japan. Both countries say they want the UNCLOS and rule of law to be the core of their common approach.

    In the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India has ramped up anti-piracy initiatives, where New Delhi and Tokyo plan to work more closely together, including coordinating on rescue attempts. In the multilateral arena, India and Japan plan to work together and coordinate positions in ARF, EAS and ADMM+ fora.

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