Abe visit: India, Japan in hectic parleys on defence, N- energy

By: | Published: November 18, 2015 12:02 AM

Final touches are being given to the summit agenda which includes negotiations on civil nuclear deal, defence equipment and technology cooperation, and expediting the sale of Japanese US-2 amphibian aircraft

Ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visit to India for the ninth annual India-Japan summit next month, hectic discussions are on between the defence and nuclear establishments of the two sides. There has been significant progress in talks on the agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy between the two countries and this could be inked at the summit.

Sources told FE on conditions of anonymity that final touches are being given to the agenda which includes negotiations on civil nuclear deal, defence equipment and technology cooperation and expediting the sale of the Japanese US-2 amphibian aircraft.

Several high-level visits ahead of the summit are slated to take place between the two countries including the visit of the Japanese defence minister expected to arrive in New Delhi soon and the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief is expected to visit Tokyo soon. Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh is already in Japan where a range of bilateral issues, including enhancement of military cooperation, are on the agenda.

With the impending visit of Japanese defence minister Gen Nakatani, hectic activities are going on in the MoD trying to advance the procurement of 12 ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft for the Indian Navy (IN). India has plans to acquire two US-2 is off the shelf and licence-build the remaining 10 in a $1.65 billion deal, which is likely to be signed sometime before the fiscal year is over.

The Indian Navy requirement for a long-range search-and-rescue platform, first mooted in 2012, is awaiting approval by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). In addition, $1.65 billion US-2i procurement has featured “prominently” in the Services Capital Acquisition Categorisation Committee (SCAPCC) meeting on December 31, 2014. A joint working group, set up in 2014 to expedite the acquisition, has held a number of meetings that have prepared the groundwork for transfer of technology, offsets and contract negotiations.

The Japanese defence minister is expected to address the concerns of the Indian Navy about the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft operated by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force crashing earlier this year.

Moreover Nakatani, in his meeting with his counterpart Manohar Parrikar in the national capital, will review strategic developments relating to international security situation with emphasis on the inter-connected Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Defence ties between India and Japan have grown stronger with both coming together for Malabar naval exercises in October and are now exploring possibility of having joint air exercises. According to sources, “It is not just the cooperation at the level of joint exercises, there is a huge opportunity present in the defence manufacturing too, especially in the context of Make in India.”

The importance that Japan puts on defence ties with India can be seen from the fact that the Japanese Embassy has added two more defence attaches here — one each from the Air Force and Coast Guard.

Japanese Ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi said: “At present, there are only four countries other than India to which Japan sends its attaches from the three services and the Coast Guard. This shows how much importance we attach to the defence and maritime cooperation between Japan and India,” Japanese Ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi has been quoted in section of the media.

Maritime security is of prime importance to Japan which has been witnessing conflict with China over control of private islands in South China Sea. A territorial dispute even exists between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands, which Beijing refers to as the Diaoyu Islands.

Prime minister Narendra Modi had visited Japan from last year in August during which that country had announced doubling of its private and public investment in India to about $ 34 billion over a period of five years.

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