The defense chiefs of Japan and India agreed Monday to continue talks over potential exports of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s US-2 amphibious aircraft to the South Asian country.
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, said in a joint press release after their meeting in Tokyo that “India and Japan have the potential” to make the area of defense equipment and technology a “key pillar of bilateral defense relations.”
Since Tokyo eased its rules on exports of defense equipment and technology last April, Japan and India have accelerated talks over India’s possible purchase of the US-2, which can be used in maritime rescue operations. It would be the first export by Japan of finished defense equipment.
While a Japan and India working group continues to iron out the details of the potential exports, New Delhi has been promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make-In-India” policy, which invites foreign investors to invest and manufacture in the country.
ShinMaywa Industries Ltd., a Hyogo Prefecture-based manufacturer of the US-2, has already begun talks with multiple Indian firms to set up a joint company in the event that the two countries agree on joint production of the plane.
Parrikar was quoted by a Defense Ministry official in Tokyo as telling Nakatani that he wants talks on the US-2 to proceed in a manner beneficial for both countries.
During their meeting, Parrikar stressed the importance of speeding up negotiations toward potential exports, echoing an agreement made when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Modi met in Australia in November.
During Monday’s talks, however, there were no discussions about joint production, Nakatani told reporters afterward.
Nakatani said they also “agreed to actively cooperate in ensuring maritime security, which is of common interest.”
To that end, the MSDF and Indian Navy will continue their regular drills, the ministry said.
At the outset of the meeting, Nakatani said, “It is important to deepen defense exchanges to secure order at sea based on the rule of law and not by force.”
According to the ministry official, Nakatani touched on the importance of trilateral security cooperation with the United States, proposing that the MSDF continue participating in the India-U.S. Malabar maritime exercises. The MSDF joined the exercises last July.
Nakatani also explained to Parrikar new security legislation being pushed by Abe to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of allies under armed attack even if Japan itself is not threatened.
Ahead of his talks with Nakatani, Parrikar met Abe at the prime minister’s office where they agreed to boost their nations’ strategic relationship, with Abe quoted by the defense ministry as saying, “A strong India leads to a strong Japan, and a strong Japan leads to a strong India.”