Japan and India will hold their first “two-plus-two” foreign and defense ministerial talks by the end of the year to strengthen security cooperation, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Monday.
“Security and defense cooperation between Japan and India is vital not only for the two countries but also for regional stability,” Iwaya told reporters after meeting with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh in Tokyo.
Iwaya said they agreed that the two countries would work hard toward an early conclusion of an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA) which allows them to share defense capabilities as well as supplies, including fuel and ammunition.
Last October, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed to institute the two-plus-two talks by upgrading their vice ministerial level framework.
The upgraded security talks will be held before a meeting between Abe and Modi, which is expected to take place by the end of the year, according to Iwaya.
At the outset of the meeting, he told Singh that Japan wants to work closely with India based on the two countries’ commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Japan’s vision for the initiative, which stresses the importance of the rule of law, has been promoted by Abe’s government amid China’s growing assertiveness in regional waters.
Singh said Japan was “one of our closest partner countries,” emphasizing that the strategic partnership, based on shared values and interests, is “becoming more important.”
Iwaya said they also discussed recent missile launches by North Korea and China’s military activities.
The previous meeting between Japan and India’s defense chiefs was held in New Delhi in August last year, when Japan’s Itsunori Onodera and India’s Nirmala Sitharaman agreed to start talks on an ACSA.
Singh later met with Abe, who is reported to have said, “I’m glad bilateral defense cooperation has been developing.”