India & Japan Ministers discuss Defence & maritime cooperation, terror, security, Pakistan & more

New Delhi: Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met the Japanese Defense Minister Kono Taro today in New Delhi for the first India-Japan 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu were also part of the bilateral talks. All four Ministers affirmed that this dialogue will further enhance the strategic depth of bilateral security and Defence cooperation.

Acknowledging emerging security challenges, the Ministers reiterated their commitment to advancing bilateral security cooperation based on the 2008 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation and the 2009 Action Plan to advance Security Cooperation.

Recalling that the two sides had a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region in which the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity are ensured, and all countries enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight, the Ministers emphasised that further strengthening of bilateral cooperation was in the mutual interest of both countries and would also help in furthering the cause of peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Bilateral Cooperation

The Ministers welcomed the progress made in deepening bilateral Defence cooperation last year and noted with satisfaction that since last year India and Japan have initiated bilateral exercises between all three components of their defence forces.

The Ministers shared the view to make continuous efforts to hold bilateral exercises between the Defence forces regularly and work to expand their scope. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the recently conducted second ‘Dharma Guardian 2019’ and the second ‘Shinyuu Maitri 2019’ Exercises. The Ministers also concurred to proceed with coordination for the first India-Japan joint fighter aircraft exercise in Japan.

The Ministers welcomed the significant progress made in negotiations of Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) since the announcement to commence negotiations in October 2018. The Ministers expressed their desire for early conclusion of the negotiations and were of the view that the agreement will further contribute to enhancing Defence cooperation between the two sides.

Acknowledging the importance of ensuring maritime safety in achieving a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, all Ministers expressed their intention to further promote cooperation in the field of capacity building in maritime security and Maritime Domain Awareness, including through cooperation with other countries.

In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the setting up of the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) by India in December last year. The Indian side looked forward to the Japanese side dispatching a liaison officer at the IFC-IOR in the near future.

Both countries noted with satisfaction the commencement of exchange of information based on the Implementing Arrangement for Deeper Cooperation between the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy signed last year.

The Ministers emphasized the need to further strengthen the Defence equipment & technology cooperation and looked forward to productive discussions in the 5th Joint Working Group on Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation (JWG-DETC). The Ministers also welcomed the progress on cooperative research in the area of Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) and Robotics.

Both sides appreciated the existing exchange programs between the Defence educational and research institutions of the two countries and expressed their desire to continue and expand exchange programs.

Multilateral Cooperation

Recalling the Japan-India-US Summit Meetings in November 2018 and June 2019, the Ministers acknowledged the trilateral cooperation with the US. They expressed satisfaction at trilateral cooperation represented by the ‘Malabar 2019’ Exercise held in September-October 2019 off the coast of Japan, mine-countermeasures exercise (MINEX) held in Japan in July 2019, and ‘Cope India 2018’ in which Japan participated as an observer.

The Ministers welcomed the recent Japan-India-Australia-US Foreign Ministerial consultations in New York in September 2019.

Regional & International Affairs

The Ministers had a frank and fruitful exchange of views on regional issues of mutual interests, particularly on the security situation in the Indo-Pacific. They reaffirmed the importance of supporting ASEAN centrality and unity for promoting peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.

Both sides welcomed the adoption of ‘ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)’ during the 34th ASEAN Summit in Thailand in June 2019. The Ministers expressed their commitment to working together with ASEAN for achieving their shared objectives.

The Ministers also reiterated their support for ASEAN-led frameworks such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus).

The Japanese side appreciated India’s announcement of the ‘Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative’ at the recent 14th EAS to create a safe, secure, stable, prosperous and sustainable maritime domain, and confirmed their willingness to discuss concrete cooperation based on the Initiative.

The Ministers noted with satisfaction that India and Japan’s initiatives for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific, including the recent ‘Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative’ and AOIP, all strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is inclusive and open to all countries in the region.

The Indian side welcomed Japan’s ‘Vientiane Vision 2.0’ in November 2019 as an updated initiative for Defence cooperation between Japan and ASEAN.

All four Ministers reaffirmed the importance of realizing North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and expressed their commitment to the full implementation of the relevant UNSCRs.

They condemned North Korea’s recent launches of ballistic missiles in clear violation of the relevant UNSCRs and strongly urged North Korea to resolve the abductions issue at the earliest date.

The Ministers exchanged views on the recent developments in the South China Sea keeping in view also the Chairman’s Statement of the 14th EAS. In this context, they reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Ministers also took note of the negotiations of a Code of Conduct (COC) and urged that it should be effective, substantive, and consistent with international law, including the UNCLOS, must ensure freedom of navigation, and must not prejudice the rights and interests of the stakeholders using the South China Sea and freedoms of all states under international law.

Both sides condemned in the strongest terms the growing threat of terrorism and acknowledged that it constituted a major threat to peace and security in the region.

The Ministers called upon all countries to take resolute action in rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks, and eliminating financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists.

The Ministers underlined the need for all countries to ensure that all territory under their control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries in any manner, and noted the threat posed to regional security by terrorist networks operating out of Pakistan, calling upon it to take resolute and irreversible action against them and fully comply with international commitments including to FATF.

Both sides emphasised the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence.

All four Ministers shared recognition on the importance of continuing exchange of opinions in light of the success of this 2+2 Ministerial Meeting, and decided to hold the next 2+2 Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo.

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The ID Staff

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