India and Japan corner Pakistan over terror infrastructure, demand ‘irreversible’ action
India and Japan on Saturday described terror networks based in Pakistan as a threat to regional security and called on the country to take “irreversible action” against such groups.
The two countries also called for a stronger international partnership and enhanced intelligence-sharing to counter terrorism after the first combined dialogue of their defence and foreign ministers in New Delhi. The dialogue came ahead of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s annual summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in mid-December.
India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar and their Japanese counterparts Taro Kono and Toshimitsu Motegi welcomed the significant progress in negotiations on the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) since October 2018 and called for early conclusion of the talks since the proposed pact will further enhance bilateral defence cooperation.
The burgeoning security ties between the two sides have been driven in recent years by a shared concern about China’s growing assertiveness in regional waters. India and Japan have had a 2+2 dialogue at the level of officials since 2010 and decided to upgrade it to the ministerial level last year.
A joint statement issued after Saturday’s meeting condemned terrorism and described it as a major threat to regional peace. “They noted in this context the threat posed to regional security by terrorist networks operating out of Pakistan and called upon it to take resolute and irreversible action against them and fully comply with international commitments including to FATF (Financial Action Task Force),” the statement said.
The two sides all called on “all countries to take resolute action in rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and eliminating financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists”.
Without naming Pakistan, the two countries also “underlined the need for all countries to ensure that all territory under their control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries in any manner”. They called for a stronger international partnership to counter terrorism and violent extremism, including increased sharing of intelligence.
The ministers discussed regional issues of mutual interest, especially the security situation in the Indo-Pacific.
In an acknowledgement of one of Japan’s key concerns, the joint statement referred to the “importance of realising North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions”. The two sides condemned North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches, describing them as a clear violation of the relevant UNSCRs, and strongly urged North Korea to “resolve the abductions issue at the earliest date”.
Referring to the importance of maritime safety in achieving a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, the two sides said they would promote cooperation in capacity-building in maritime security and maritime domain awareness, including through cooperation with other countries. The Indian side said it looked forward to the posting of a Japanese liaison officer at the Information Fusion Centre - Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in the near future.
The meeting also discussed developments in the South China Sea, where China has expanded its presence and is engaged in disputes with several countries, and “reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce and peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)”.
Since last year, India and Japan have initiated exercises between all three services, including the Dharma Guardian-2019 and Shinyuu Maitri-2019. The first joint fighter aircraft exercise expected to be held in Japan and two sides decided to expand the scope of these drills.
The statement said the two sides would further strengthen their defence equipment and technology cooperation, including through the upcoming meeting of the Joint Working Group on Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation (JWG-DETC).
India and Japan also reaffirmed the importance of Asean’s centrality and unity for promoting peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and expressed their commitment to working with Asean for achieving shared objectives.
The Japanese ministers also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who stressed the importance of the all-round development of India-Japan relations for the benefit of the region and the world.
Modi said he and Abe attach “great importance to strengthening the bilateral partnership” and that he looked forward to welcoming the Japanese premier for the annual summit next month. Modi added that India’s relationship with Japan was a “key component of our vision for Indo-Pacific for peace, stability and prosperity of the region, as well as a cornerstone of India’s Act East Policy”.