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India-Japan Security and Defence Cooperation

Published Oct 30, 2018
Updated Jun 21, 2020

India and Japan have made significant progress in the last decade in fostering joint efforts towards shared security since the announcement of the India-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2008. Both countries desire to further deepen bilateral security and defence cooperation through established mechanisms, including the Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue, Defence Policy Dialogue, the national Security Advisors’ Dialogue, Staff-level dialogue between each service and bilateral dialogue between Coast Guards, as well as exercises between each of three Services and exercises between the Coast Guards. Both countries attach importance to the Malabar exercise, regular Passage Exercises (PASSEX) and other joint exercises including the first counter terrorism exercise between the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and the Indian Army as well as Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF) participation as observer in Cope India and welcome increased cooperation with like-minded countries.

Maritime security cooperation between India and Japan through enhanced exchanges in expanding maritime domain awareness (MDA) and mutual logistics support in the Indo-Pacific Region contributes to regional peace and stability. During the 13th Summit, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing the Implementing Arrangement for Deeper Cooperation between the Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and commencement of negotiations for the Acquisition, Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). These two documents will enhance the strategic depth of the relationship. Cooperation between India and Japan on defence equipment and technology holds immense scope and potential for future bilateral collaborations.
Enabling Framework

Defence cooperation between India and Japan flows from the Joint Declaration Security Cooperation 2008 and the Memorandum on Defence Cooperation and Exchanges concluded in 2014. The Agreement concerning the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology and Agreement concerning Security Measures for the Protection of Classified Military Information also concluded in 2015 have further built on this edifice. The Implementing Arrangement for Deeper Cooperation between the Indian Navy and JMSDF was signed in October 2018. It will establish the means and framework for information sharing and conduct of joint exercises and other maritime engagements for the enhancement of Maritime Security and MDA, including the exchange of shipping information.

Current Status

At the apex level the Annual Defence Ministerial Meeting was commenced in May 2006, with the last meeting held in India in August 2018. The Defence Policy Dialogue (DPD) was commenced in April 2007 in Tokyo; the 6th edition of DPD and 5th edition of 2+2 Dialogue was held in New Delhi in June 2018. Service Staff Talks between each of three services are in place. The 7th Indian Navy-to- JMSDF Staff talks were held in January 2018 in Delhi and the 2nd Indian Air Force-to-JASDF Staff Talks was held in June 2018 in Delhi. The 5th Indian Army-to-Japan JGSDF Staff Talks will also be held in India in early 2019. The 17th Indian Coast Guard(ICG) and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) high level meeting was held in New Delhi in January 2018.

Joint Exercises: India and Japan have a high frequency of Indian Navy-to-JMSDF exercises with the Trilateral Malabar Exercise being the most significant engagement. Malabar 2018 was conducted off Guam in June 2018 and witnessed significant participation from all the participants. The bilateral maritime exercise JIMEX-18 was held off Visakhapatnam in October 2018, after an interlude of 5 years,with the participation of Japan’s helicopter destroyer Kaga. PASSEX are regularly conducted during the visit of Indian Naval ships and JMSDF ships to each other’s ports in India and Japan. PASSEX were held in September 2017 off Western India, October 2017 off Western Kyushu, Japan, November 2017 in the Sea of Japan, January 2018 off Mumbai and May 2018 off Visakhapatnam and September 2018 off the Gulf of Aden.

The first Air anti-submarine (ASW) exercise between Indian Navy P-8I and JMSDF P-3C was held off Goa in October 2017, during the return transit of the JMSDF aircraft deployed to the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations. This was followed by an Air ASW exercise between JMSDF P-1 and Indian Navy P-8I in May 2018 off Goa. India and Japan will conduct the first Counter Terrorism exercise between the JGSDF and the Indian Army in November 2018. The Indian Army also participated as observers in the Japan and U.S. Common Integration Emergency Drill (TREX-17) held in November 2017, and the Indian Navy took part in the mine and explosive ordnance exercise held in July 2018. There also exist a large number of Subject Matter Expert Exchanges amongst all three services in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR), peacekeeping, helicopter aircrew and meteorology. A joint exercise off the coast of Chennai between the ICG and JCG was held in January 2018.

Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation

Defence Expo 18 at Chennai in April 2018 witnessed participation from the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), Ministry of Defense, Japan. The Joint Working Group on Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation (JWG-DETC) constituted in 2014 has met on four occasions with the 4th JWG-DETC held in New Delhi in July 2018. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and ATLA signed the Project Arrangement Concerning the Cooperative Research on the Visual SLAM Based GNSS Augmentation Technology for UGV/Robotics in July 2018. The first-ever Defence Industry Forum between India and Japan was organised along with the 3rd JWG-DETC in Tokyo in September 2017. This was followed by a similar initiative on the sidelines of the 4th JWG-DETC wherein a Business-to-Business interaction with Japanese defence companies visiting Indian defence industries at Bengaluru and Mumbai under the auspices of Department of Defence Production (DDP) and ATLA was held.