Japan and India began joint military exercises in the Indian Ocean this week, a tangible step toward closer cooperation between China’s two biggest Asian rivals. The WSJ reports:
Two destroyers from Japan joined three ships from the Indian Navy Thursday for the start of four days of military exercises in the Bay of Bengal. The exercises will be the second for the navies of the two countries. The first exercise was off the coast of Tokyo in June of last year.A stealth frigate, a guided missile destroyer and a missile launching ship from the Indian Navy will conduct drills with two guided missile destroyers from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, according to an Indian government statement.
The exercise comes amid a warming relationship between Tokyo and New Delhi, and not just in military affairs. The Japanese emperor and empress visited India recently, and Japanese companies like Suzuki and Sony have been significantly building up operations there. The alliance makes a lot of sense: both India and Japan have territorial disputes with China, and both are on the lookout for allies to balance Beijing, which is becoming more aggressive and more powerful, economically as well as militarily.This is definitely a trend to watch. In the past few years China has irked many of its neighbors, especially Japan. In response, Japan has escalated military, political, and economic outreach to other rivals to China in South and Southeast Asia. But as Japan and India grow closer, Beijing is unlikely to sit idly: watch out for increase cooperation between China and Pakistan and between China and North Korea, if Beijing hasn’t yet lost all of its friends in Pyongyang.