India’s Parrikar, Japan’s Gen Nakatani meet in Delhi, call for “utmost respect” to UNCLOS in South China Sea
Discuss future programs, including trilateral Malabar naval exercise with U.S. Navy, military technology agencies’ cooperation
No progress on Japanese firm ShinMaywa’s offer to sell US-2 amphibious aircraft to Indian Navy
New Delhi: India and Japan today expressed concern over the recent developments in South China Sea, which is on the brink of turning into the world’ hottest conflict zone following China’s adverse reactions to a July 12 international arbitral tribunal’s award against its territorial claims in the region.
India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his Japanese counterpart Gen Nakatani, after their official meetings here, also urged all parties in South China Sea to show “utmost respect” for the United Nation’s Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS).
Gen Nakatani was on a quick, day-long official visit to India to hold talks with his Indian counterpart, though he had cut short his three-day visit that was to begin on July 13 and end on July 15. Though no reason was cited, it made one wonder if a bellicose China, which rejected the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague award as null and void and asked non-litorral nations not to force it into a war in South China Sea, could have caused the curtailed visit by the Japanese defence minister.
Their four-page joint statement touched upon the South China Sea dispute and the tribunal’s order. The ministers recognized that “the security and stability of the seas connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans are indispensable for the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”
They reaffirmed the importance of respecting international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS, of the peaceful settlement of the disputes without any threat or use of force, and of ensuring freedom and safety of navigation and over-flight as well as unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters, the joint statement said. In this context, they noted the Award of the Arbitral Tribunal on the South China Sea under the UNCLOS on July 12.
Closer Bilateral Defence Ties
The Ministers underlined their intention to explore more concrete and effective cooperation and decided to promote cooperation and exchanges in the following areas:
* They agreed to conduct an ‘Annual Defence Ministerial Meeting’. The Defence Minister of India will visit Japan in 2017.
* Both sides will work towards realising the visit of Indian Navy chief to Japan in 2016 and the Chief of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to India in early 2017.
* Early meeting of the 5th Defence Vice Minister/Secretary-level ‘Defence Policy Dialogue’ and the 4th Vice Minister/Secretary level ‘2+2’ dialogue.
* Explore the setting up of a ‘Maritime Strategic Dialogue’ between the two defence ministries.
* Indian Army and JGSDF will hold staff talks in Tokyo in 2016.
* JGSDF will also send officers to India’s Counter-Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJW) for experts-level exchange in counter-terrorism.
* Japan sought future opportunities to invite observers from Indian Army and Air Force to JGSDF’s HA/DR-related exercises.
* The two sides decided to conduct the India-US-Japan Trilateral Joint Maritime Exercise Malabar in 2017.
* They also agreed to explore the possibility for JMSDF and Indian Navy to conduct a joint bilateral exercise.
* They agreed to hold the 2nd Joint Working Group on Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation (DETC) between India’s Department of Defence Production and Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistical Agency as early as possible in 2016 to identify specific items and areas for cooperation.
* They commended the effort made by both countries regarding cooperation on US-2 amphibious aircraft launched in 2013.
Gen Nakatani also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and briefed him on the bilateral defence cooperation initiatives and the regional developments in East and Southeast Asia. Modi said he is looking forward to his visit to Japan later this year for the Annual Summit.
For full text of the joint statement, click this image: