India Balances Asian Security With Japan

Pushing back against China.

India Balances Asian Security With Japan – Analysis

During Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to India, both countries made important progress in strengthening their security engagement focused on maritime security, defence purchases and counter-terrorism. Nonetheless, Indian policymakers are conscious of regional concerns about Japan’s renewed nationalism and of balancing this relationship with that of China.

By Sameer Patil*

The MoU on civilian nuclear cooperation and the bullet train agreement grabbed the headlines during the recently concluded visit (11-13 December) of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India. But equally important is the security cooperation forged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abe to make the India-Japan relationship a key element of Asia’s new geopolitical order.

For a relationship that has blossomed only in the last decade – after the 2006 India-U.S. nuclear deal – the current contours of the India-Japan security engagement are wide. They range from maritime security (concerns over the South China Sea territorial dispute and joint exercises) and defence purchases (potential aircraft sale to India) to counter-terrorism (Islamic State and radical extremism). This has been aided in no small part by the United States’ active diplomacy, which perceives New Delhi and Tokyo as important partners for its ‘Rebalancing to Asia’ strategy. Washington has encouraged these two reticent Asian democracies to engage bilaterally and also trilaterally in the form of the U.S.-India-Japan[1] and the India-Japan-Australia[2] dialogues to cooperate on regional security matters. These engagements have been enhanced by PM Abe’s effort to restore Japan’s position as a “normal” country by receding from its pacifist constitutional orientation.

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