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2+2 talks: India vows to back Japan’s plan to develop ‘counter-strike capabilities’ aimed at China

In 2nd round of their 2+2 foreign & defence ministerial dialogue, held in Tokyo, New Delhi promised to play major role in Tokyo’s decision to revise its National Security Strategy.

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New Delhi: Sending a strong signal to China, India Tuesday said that it would support Japan’s plan to acquire counter-strike missiles as part of security and defence cooperation between the two countries.

The development came at the second round of the 2+2 ministerial meeting Thursday held in Tokyo between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with their Japanese counterparts Yoshimasa Hayashi and Yasukazu Hamada respectively.

“While expressing its resolve to examine all options necessary for national defence — including so-called ‘counter-strike capabilities’ — the Japanese side expressed its determination to fundamentally reinforce Japan’s defence capabilities within the next five years and secure a substantial increase of Japan’s defence budget needed to effect it,” said the joint statement that was issued after the 2+2 meeting. 

It added: “Acknowledging Japan’s determination to reinforce its defence capabilities, the Indian side expressed its support to work towards enhanced security and defence cooperation”.

This comes at a time when there’s an intense debate in Japan on whether Tokyo should go for counter-strike capabilities under its revised National Security Strategy, which many in that country oppose.  

India and Japan share a Special Strategic and Global Partnership.

Under the counter-strike capabilities, Japan intends to boost its air defence system in view of its ongoing tensions with China, the Russia-Ukraine war, and North Korea’s frequent launches of ballistic missiles, Hamada had said last month.

Japan’s defence ministry has plans to increase its budget by up to 3 per cent in fiscal 2023 compared to 2022. Apart from the National Security Strategy, the Fumio Kishida government has plans to revise Japan’s ‘National Defense Program Guidelines’ — the country’s defence policy — and the ‘Medium Term Defense Program’, which sets forth Japan’s defence build-up capability and procurement policy for the next five years.

“Enhancing the Defence Equipment and Technological Cooperation between India and Japan is one of our key priority areas. In our meeting today, I had the opportunity to propose engagements in emerging and critical technological domains,” said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in his press statement in Tokyo.

Singh and Hamada also held talks separately in which the Japanese defence minister spoke about his country’s plan “to fundamentally reinforce the defense capabilities of Japan through the formulation of National Security Strategy and other document,” said a statement issued by Japan’s Ministry of Defence.

India and Japan Thursday also decided that the air forces of both sides will soon be conducting an ‘India-Japan Fighter Exercise’ even as they planned to “make continuous efforts towards more complex and sophisticated bilateral exercise.”

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‘Sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations’

Aiming at China, both sides once again asserted the need to adhere to a rules-based global order that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, and emphasised the need for all countries to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law without resorting to threats, the use of force or any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.

“Strengthening our foreign policy coordination is essential to realise the true benefits of the substantial convergence in our interests and outlook. They obviously concentrate on the Indo-Pacific but extend to many other regional, global and multilateral platforms as well. The exchange of views on the crucial situations facing the international community today was particularly useful,” said Jaishankar.

In this regard, both sides reiterated the need to work closely with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to have a “free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient, based on the rule of law and free from coercion.”

The ministers had a “frank and fruitful discussion on the regional and global issues of mutual interests and concerns”, particularly those in the Indo-Pacific as well as Ukraine, the joint statement said.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: Xi won’t settle for ‘diplomatic compromise’ soon on India-China border, says Australia ex-PM Rudd


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