In­dia Ja­pan de­fence co­op­er­a­tion: Be­gin­ning of an era

SP's MAI - - MILITARY FEATURE - [ By Ran­jeet Kumar ]

After the sum­mit meet­ing on Septem­ber 1, 2014, be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, In­dia and Ja­pan will wit­ness an en­hanced and new era of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries in de­fence and se­cu­rity arena, for which the way has been cleared by the Ja­panese decision to lift the ban on six In­dian de­fence en­ti­ties in­clud­ing the Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Limited and the decision to ac­cel­er­ate talks on US-2 am­phibi­ous plane trans­fer to the In­dian Navy. In fact In­dia will be set­ting a new tem­plate for de­fence co­op­er­a­tion with Ja­pan, which other strate­gic part­ners of Ja­pan would also like to em­u­late.

Both coun­tries de­cided to up­grade and strengthen their de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and di­rected the of­fi­cials of the two gov­ern­ments to launch con­sul­ta­tions to pro­mote mil­i­tary equip­ment co­op­er­a­tion and speed up dis­cus­sions on modal­i­ties for the sup­ply and trans- fer of tech­nol­ogy of the US-2 am­phibi­ous plane. A joint state­ment said, “Both sides di­rected the Joint Work­ing Group to ac­cel­er­ate progress in the dis­cus­sions and prepa­ra­tions for a road map for the de­vel­op­ment of the In­dian air­craft in­dus­try through US-2 am­phib­ian air­craft co­op­er­a­tion in­clud­ing the trans­fer of the air­craft and its tech­nol­ogy to In­dia.”

If the US-2 deal ma­te­ri­alises In­dia will per­haps be first coun­try since World War II to ac­quire a mil­i­tary sys­tem from Ja­pan.To fa­cil­i­tate this Prime Min­is­ter Abe had only a few months ago de­cided to dis­man­tle the ban on weapons ex­ports that has dis­suaded his coun­try from en­ter­ing into world arms mar­ket in spite of pos­sess­ing most ad­vanced and com­pet­i­tive de­fence tech­nol­ogy. The US-2 (ShinMaywa in­dus­tries) am­phibi­ous air­craft deal will be worth $1.65 bil­lion, which in­cludes off-the-shelf pur­chase and tech­nol­ogy trans­fer for li­cence man­u­fac­ture in In­dia. Ac­cord­ing to sources, In­dia is ne­go­ti­at­ing for at least 15 planes for di­rect saleat the cost of $110 mil­lion each.

The US-2 plane, likely to be based at the An­daman and Ni­co­bar

Is­lands can fly 4,500 km which will give a reach up to South East Asian coastal ar­eas and can be em­ployed in support mis­sions. This will step up the pro­file of the In­dian Navy across the In­dian Ocean-which will help in coun­ter­ing ri­val China.

The US-2 will prove to be a sym­bolic launch­ing of de­fence co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries. To en­able deeper co­op­er­a­tion the two sides signed a mem­o­ran­dum of co­op­er­a­tion and ex­changes in the field of de­fence dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s five-day visit. “We in­tend to give a new thrust and di­rec­tion to our de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion in de­fence tech­nol­ogy and equip­ment, given our shared in­ter­est in peace and sta­bil­ity and mar­itime se­cu­rity. We have also de­cided to ex­pand our co­op­er­a­tion in ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes, ed­u­ca­tional ex­changes, etc,” Modi said at the joint press brief­ing with his Ja­panese coun­ter­part.

The Tokyo Dec­la­ra­tion said, “The two Prime Min­is­ters ex­pressed hope that this would usher in a new era of co­op­er­a­tion in de­fence equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy. They recog­nised the enor­mous fu­ture po­ten­tial for trans­fer and col­lab­o­ra­tive projects in de­fence equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy be­tween the two coun­tries.”

The foun­da­tion for de­fence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion was laid in 2006 when the then De­fence Min­is­ter Pranab Mukher­jee had vis­ited Ja­pan and is­sued a joint state­ment with Fukushiro Nuk­aga, Ja­pan’s Min­is­ter of State for De­fence, who em­pha­sised on “deep­en­ing the di­a­logue and co­op­er­a­tion” in se­cu­rity and de­fence fields and a “deep in­ter­est in tack­ling re­gional and global se­cu­rity chal­lenges”. In 2001 ,the bi­lat­eral Com­pre­hen­sive Se­cu­rity Di­a­logue was ini­ti­ated. The two coun­tries fur­ther in­sti­tu­tion­alised the bi­lat­eral se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion by is­su­ing the Joint Dec­la­ra­tion on Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Ja­pan and In­dia in Oc­to­ber, 2008 and com­mence­ment of 2+2 bi­lat­eral di­a­logue in­volv­ing the De­fence and For­eign Min­istries. Un­der this the fol­low­ing el­e­ments were in­cluded: First, in­for­ma­tion ex­change and pol­icy co­or­di­na­tion on re­gional af­fairs in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion and on long-term strate­gic and global is­sues. Sec­ond, Bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion within mul­ti­lat­eral frame­works in Asia, in par­tic­u­lar the East Asia Sum­mit, ASEAN Re­gional Fo­rum and ReCAAP pro­cesses. Third, De­fence di­a­logue and co­op­er­a­tion within the frame­work of the Joint State­ment signed in May 2006 be­tween the two De­fence and For­eign Min­istries. Fourth, co­op­er­a­tion be­tween coast guards.

Th­ese di­a­logues con­tin­ued on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and the lat­est decision to up­grade the de­fence co­op­er­a­tion is a re­sult of the Modi- Abe sum­mit which will see a new era of co­op­er­a­tion in de­fence sec­tor be­tween the two Asian gi­ants. Prime Min­is­ter Modi told the Ja­panese busi­ness­men to take ad­van­tage of In­dia’s lib­er­alised FDI regime in de­fence sec­tor.

The co­op­er­a­tion and joint pro­gramme be­tween the armed forces of two coun­tries will also be­come a reg­u­lar fea­ture. As the two coun­tries de­cided to in­clude Ja­pan in the bi­lat­eral In­dia-US Mal­abar mar­itime ex­er­cises on reg­u­lar an­nual ba­sis, the two Prime Min­is­ters also wel­comed the di­a­logue be­tween the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of In­dian Coast Guard and the Com­man­dant of Ja­pan Coast Guard and the joint ex­er­cise be­tween In­dian and Ja­panese Coast Guards con­ducted off the coast of Kochi in Jan­uary 2014. Both sides ex­pressed their de­sire to fur­ther pro­mote bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion on mar­itime is­sues and de­cided to hold the next bi­lat­eral di­a­logue in Tokyo and joint ex­er­cise off the coast of Haneda be­tween In­dian and Ja­panese Coast Guards in Oc­to­ber 2014.

Though the Ja­panese were in the fore­front of im­pos­ing sanc­tions on In­dia after In­dia con­ducted nu­clear tests in May 1998, the role ofthe In­dian Navy in Novem­ber 1999 when they res­cued the Ja­panese Alexan­dra Rainbow ship from the sea pi­rates im­pressed the Ja­panese decision-mak­ers so much that they de­cided to take a U-turn and ini­ti­ated the talks with In­dia in de­fence and se­cu­rity arena. Th­ese talks have now ma­tured to the level of the Tokyo Dec­la­ra­tion which ex­presses the re­solve to strengthen de­fence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion. Per­haps the on­go­ing spat with China over Senkaku (Di­ayou) is­lands in the East China Sea has en­cour­aged Ja­pan to find a new part­ner in Asia in de­fence arena to bol­ster its mar­itime se­cu­rity.

The re­solve to en­ter into a de­fence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with In­dia will al­low the Ja­panese de­fence gi­ants like Mit­subishi Heavy In­dus­tries Limited and Kawasaki Heavy In­dus­tries Limited to en­ter in a big way in In­dian de­fence sec­tor. Th­ese com­pa­nies al­ready sup­ply im­por­tant com­po­nents to US and Bri­tish avi­a­tion and ar­ma­ment com­pa­nies. Since In­dia is a lead­ing mar­ket for de­fence hard­ware, the Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment would not like to be ab­sent from the In­dian mar­ket, which of­fers huge scope of over $100 bil­lion in the next decade. In­dia needs cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy in de­fence elec­tron­ics and the Ja­panese elec­tron­ics com­pa­nies are well suited to meet the needs of the coun­try’s armed forces. Ja­pan seems to have shed its post-World War II in­hi­bi­tions and is ready to work with In­dia as are li­able part­ner in de­fence sec­tor.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Prime Min­is­ter of Ja­pan Shinzo Abe at the joint press re­marks at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo

ShinMaywa’s am­phib­ian air­craft US-2

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