India and Japan are set to take their fast growing ties a step further with a first ever meeting between their national security advisors (NSA) on Monday, and the subject of China’s growing assertiveness is expected to be top of the agenda along with bilateral defence and security ties.
Visiting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe — chief guest at Sunday’s Republic Day Parade — has already briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about China’s territorial muscle-flexing in the East China Sea, where Tokyo and Beijing are engaged in a tug of war over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and the latter has declared a controversial Air Defence Identification Zone.
Before Abe’s trip, Japanese emperor Akihito and empress Michiko visited India in November, following an invitation pending for a decade. And while Tokyo’s official line then was that the royal visit had nothing to do with politics or with the Asian balance of power, no one quite believed it.
Considered a top advisor to Abe, Shotaru Yachi, head of the Japanese National Security Council that was created only this month, will meet his Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon here. More such high-level interactions are on the anvil with top South Block officials telling HT the foreign and defence secretaries of the two countries are also scheduled to meet this year.
“India and Japan will be involved in a trilateral naval exercise with the US in the Pacific Ocean this year and the two countries have also decided to hold bilateral naval exercises annually in the Arabian Sea. Yachi and Menon are expected to discuss the security of sea lanes of communication as well possible transfer of technology of the Japanese ShinMaywa (US-2) air-sea rescue aircraft to India,” said a senior Indian diplomat.
Officials said the Menon-Yachi meeting is expected to see an information exchange between the two national security council secretariats, on the lines of the exchange with South Korea during the visit of its President Park Guen-Hye earlier this month.
“The India-Japan relationship has entered a crucial strategic phase with both dependent on each other for a secure future,” said a senior Indian diplomat.