Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to visit India in mid-September. The visit assumes significance as it comes amid rising tension in the region. As a precursor to the Japanese PM’s visit, a high-level delegation, headed by Sanjay Garg, joint secretary (defence industries production) at the ministry of defence, will visit Tokyo in the first week of the month. Japan is keen on expanding its defence role and capability amid security concerns over China and North Korea. Also, India is looking to strengthen its military cooperation with Japan and is interested in sourcing defence technologies for domestic manufacture of arms and equipment. Sources told FE that, “Defence minister Arun Jaitley is also scheduled to visit Japan for the annual defence ministerial meeting next month, where the focus will be on strategic ties and the need to advance defence cooperation for regional peace and security, as well as maritime security.” Jaitley will also seek participation of defence companies in the ‘Make in India’ projects as well as reviving talks on $1.65-bn sale of ShinMaywa Industries US-2i amphibious aircraft to the Indian Navy.
The two countries are looking at strengthening cooperation in the Asia-Pacific too. And this is one of the issues that will be discussed between Jaitley and his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada. The Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard are seeking 12-18 of US-2i search and rescues aircraft (SAR) to expand their reach and capability. Given that the navy’s requirement for the search and rescue is limited, the two sides are looking at the possibility of exports to third countries. Tokyo has also suggested that the parts for the aircraft will be manufactured in India, and setting up of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility.
According to Amit Cowshish, former financial advisor (acquisition) to ministry of defence (MoD), “Six years down the line, with two prime ministers declaring their commitment to the programme, one still does not know the fate of the proposal to buy these aircraft from Japan which, going by media reports, entailed full transfer of technology, setting up of the MRO and spare-parts manufacturing facilities in India and a huge potential for exports to some countries which had already shown interest in the aircraft.”
Recently, Japan’s leading shipbuilders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, received request for information (RFI) for the Indian Project 75(I), where the foreign company with its local partner will build six submarines under ‘Make in India’ initiative. During the 2016 Indo-Japanese Defense Ministerial Meeting, both countries agreed to explore setting up of a Maritime Strategic Dialogue and a possible joint bilateral naval exercise for 2017. Japanese and Indian defence officials interact through a number of bilateral forums including the 2+2 Dialogue, Defence Policy Dialogue, and a Coast Guard-to-Coast Guard cooperation dialogue.