Malabar 2009. Indian guided missile destroyer INS Ranvir, followed by guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, followed by helicopter carrier JS Kurama. US Department of Defense photo.

The defense ministers of Japan and India agreed this week to hold bilateral naval exercises in 2012.

The accord reached between Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa and his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony reflects Japan’s desire to boost bilateral defense cooperation with India in view of China’s growing maritime assertiveness.

Details such as the timing of the exercise between Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian navy will be worked out in future discussions, the officials said.

During their talks at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, the two ministers also agreed on Ichikawa’s visit to India sometime in 2012, the officials said.

Ichikawa was quoted as telling his Indian counterpart, “Deepening defense cooperation between Japan and India will lead to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Antony told Ichikawa that India’s relations with Japan are its priority and it would like to strengthen such ties, according to the officials.

The two ministers also underscored the importance of the international community in protecting the safety of sea lanes, the officials said.

They also discussed the issue surrounding the South China Sea, which is the source of territorial disputes between China and a number of its Asian neighbors.

Read more at The Mainichi Daily News.

The exercises will be the first bilateral exercises between the two countries, although both participate in the multilateral Malabar exercises.

Japan and India have several common interests that make strong defense ties attractive. First and foremost is China, and the fact that cooperation between the two makes aggression by China against either much more complicated. Second, both are concerned about piracy in the Straits of Malacca, which has spiked in the last two months. Japan is reliant on the Strait for passing resources east and finished goods west, while India’s interest in co-developing the resources of the South China Sea makes the Strait relevant to its security.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch