Onodera set to pitch plane to India

Kyodo

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera is making preparations to visit India from Oct. 8 to advance diplomatic talks to export Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft, ministry officials said Saturday.

Onodera plans to meet with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony with the aim of strengthening cooperation in maritime security matters with India, which has territorial issues with China.

Japan is also at odds with China over the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea controlled by Japan, which China claims as Diaoyu and Taiwan as Tiaoyutai.

During talks in May in Tokyo Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, agreed to set up a working group to study the possible export of US-2 amphibious aircraft used by the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The two leaders also agreed to conduct joint drills involving the MSDF and the Indian Navy on a regular basis. Onodera is expected to promote the usability of the US-2 for the Indian military, which is also apparently considering buying sea rescue aircraft from other countries, such as Russia and Canada.