Japan and India hold security talks amid major Russian drills | Government and politics

By MARI YAMAGUCHI – Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and India are holding security talks between their foreign and defense ministers in Tokyo on Thursday, seeking to further strengthen their military ties amid growing tensions from China and Russia in the the region.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada met his Indian counterpart Rajnat Singh before joining Foreign Ministers Yoshimasa Hayashi and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in security talks later in the day. Japan and India held their first “2+2” security talks in 2019.

The meeting comes at a sensitive time when Russia is organizing a major multinational military exercise in its Far East, with the participation of China and India.

Tokyo has protested to Moscow over this, including the disputed Russian-held islands over which Japan claims sovereignty. Japan also expressed “serious concern” over naval gunnery exercises jointly organized by Russia and China off Japan’s northern coast over the weekend.

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Foreign Ministry officials said Japan had warned India against participating in exercises held on the disputed islands and that Indian troops only participated in ground exercises in other areas.

Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said on Wednesday that Japan wants to intensify joint military exercises and cooperation in the development and transfer of military equipment and technology with India.

Japan hopes to expand military equipment transfers to support its weak defense industry as the country tries to boost military capacity and spending to deter growing threats from China, Russia and North Korea.

Japan and India are discussing the joint development of unmanned ground vehicle technology, Japanese officials said. Japan’s earlier plan to sell sea-landing planes to India was delayed, partly by costs.

Japan also wishes to reaffirm India’s support for the promotion of a “free and open Indo-Pacific vision” which Japan is promoting with the United States within the framework of the quadrilateral which also includes Australia to counter the assertion of China in the region.

AP reporter Chisato Tanaka contributed to this report.

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