India and Japan pledged to deepen their defense ties as the two nations seek to counter China’s growing influence in the region amid escalating territorial disputes.
Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar called on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Monday, his first overseas trip since being appointed in November. Parrikar also met his counterpart Gen Nakatani as part of the March 29-April 1 visit.
“A strong India-Japan partnership is not only in the national interest of the two countries but is also important for peace and security in the region,” India’s defense ministry said in a statement, citing Abe. Parrikar said he would like to see a strong partnership with Japan in defense equipment and technology, according to the statement.
Converging economic and security interests are driving Asia’s second- and third-biggest military spenders closer in an attempt to thwart increasingly assertive Chinese claims over contested lands and waters. Japan is also easing its defense export rules as India, the world’s biggest arms importer, is looking to modernize its military.
A close rapport between Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi has been cemented by a shared unease with China.