Japan, India split over policies toward China
1 June 2013
Though India has an interest in the Asia-Pacific region, it is reluctant to adopt security policies that target a specific country, writes seima oki
Although Japan and India have agreed to reinforce bilateral security cooperation, the two countries still have differing views on forging an international coalition to handle China's military expansion.
Japan wants to create an international coalition together with India, the United States and other nations, to put pressure on China. However, New Delhi is a seeking multilateral foreign policy that places equal importance on its relations with not only Japan and the United States, but also China, Russia and the Middle East.
On Tuesday evening, a day before their summit meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie invited visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur to the prime minister's official residence for a small, intimate dinner meeting.
The invitation was unusual because another official dinner was held Wednesday evening, and it is rare for Japanese prime ministers to host the same foreign guests for two consecutive days.
Political observers said it was an indication of Abe's high expectations for India.
The prime ministers' joint statement also included many points regarding bilateral security cooperation.
In the statement, Abe and Singh said their two countries would regularly hold joint exercises between the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy, as well as begin talks for the export of the MSDF's US-2 amphibious plane to India. They also said they would cooperate to better counter cyber-attacks, ensure safe sea lanes and bolster both countries' defense and coast guard authorities.
The points put forward in the joint statement clearly indicate they were drafted with China's increasing maritime presence in mind.
In the East China Sea, Japan and China continue to dispute the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
Submarines assumed to belong to the Chinese Navy have frequently appeared in Japan's territorial waters, putting pressure on Japan.
China has also increased its presence in the Indian Ocean.
In February, a Chinese state-run firm obtained management rights to a port in Pakistan, in addition to providing assistance in building ports in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
China's "String of Pearls" strategy has progressed in areas surrounding India.
In Kashmir, Chinese and Indian armies were locked in a stand-off from mid-April to early May, creating tension in the region.
China has allocated about 12.3 trillion yen for its 2013 defense budget, much higher than Japan and India's combined budget of about 8.3 trillion yen.
As it would be difficult for Japan or India to unilaterally take action against China, the two countries have thus adopted a strategy of deterring China by cooperating on security matters.
India also has a deep interest in the Asia-Pacific region and a forward-looking attitude toward boosting cooperation through joint military drills and other means. However, India is reluctant to adopt security policies that target a specific country.
Instead, India expects that such cooperation will help introduce technology that will improve its military capabilities.
According to a senior official at India's foreign ministry, the country's top priority is stability in the Indian Ocean.
While cooperation with the United States and Japan is essential, the official added that it does not intend to participate in Japanese and US foreign policies that aim to create a network to surround and deter China.
the yomiuri shimbun/a