Look out, China: your two biggest rivals in Asia are growing closer together. The Japanese defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, on a multi-day trip to India, had a warm and sympathetic conversation with his counterpart in Delhi today. The Times of India reports:
With an eye firmly on China, India and Japan on Monday decided to “further consolidate and strengthen their strategic and global partnership” in the defence arena through measures ranging from regular joint combat exercises and military exchanges to cooperation in anti-piracy, maritime security and counter-terrorism.”…An unnamed official elaborated: “The two ministers extensively and frankly exchanged ideas regarding regional and global security challenges, as well as bilateral defence cooperation and exchanges. They shared views on issues relating to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region,” said an official.
The meeting comes amid warming military ties between China’s two biggest rivals. During the coming year, Japan and India will hold their fourth Defence Policy Dialogue, third “2 plus 2” Dialogue, and third joint naval exercise. Japan will play host to the Indian defense minister, and the two ministers have said they hope for deeper cooperation between their air forces.No doubt some policy-makers in Beijing are annoyed. Late last month China announced it would loan Pakistan $6.5 billion (a large chunk of the $9.6 billion total price tag) for two new nuclear power reactors in Karachi that will be built by—you guessed it—Chinese companies. In the future, as China and Pakistan grow closer to form a strategic hedge against India (and the US), expect India to deepen cooperation with China’s rivals like Japan and Vietnam.