India, Japan ink pact to bolster defence forcesUpdated: Sep 10, 2020, 23:58 IST
India and Japan have signed a key agreement for reciprocal provision of supplies and services between their defence forces, which is expected to drive closer military cooperation and contribute to security in the Indo-Pacific.
The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and India’s armed forces was signed by defence secretary Ajay Kumar and Japanese ambassador Satoshi Suzuki in New Delhi on Wednesday.
“The agreement establishes a framework such as the settlement procedures for the reciprocal provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian armed forces,” said a statement from Japan’s foreign ministry.
The agreement is expected to facilitate “smooth and prompt provision of supplies and services” between the two sides, promote closer cooperation between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and India’s armed forces, and enable them to actively contribute to international peace and security, the statement said.
The external affairs ministry stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, during a phone conversation on Thursday, welcomed the agreement and said it will “enhance the depth of defence cooperation...and contribute to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific”.
It had earlier been expected the pact would be signed during a summit between Abe and Modi this year. However, the summit has been thrown into doubt by Abe’s decision last month to step down on health grounds.
The agreement will cover the reciprocal provision of supplies and services during joint exercises and training missions, UN peacekeeping operations, humanitarian relief operations, operations during disasters in the territory of both parties or a third country, and evacuation of nationals of India and Japan from overseas in exigencies.
The supplies and services covered by the pact include food, water, transportation including airlift, petroleum, clothing, communications and medical services, use of facilities, spares and components, and repair and maintenance services.
The agreement will remain in force for 10 years and will be automatically extended for periods of 10 years unless one of the parties decides to end it.
India has similar agreements with the US, Australia, France, Oman and Singapore, and is negotiating one with Russia.
During their 30-minute phone conversation, Modi and Abe reviewed the status of ongoing cooperation, including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project. They agreed the strong partnership between the two sides will play a “critical role in charting the course for the global community in the post-Covid world”, the external affairs ministry said.
Abe listed actions taken by India and Japan for realising the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and the elevation of the special strategic and global partnership between the two countries among the key achievements in bilateral relations, Japan’s foreign ministry said in a readout.
The two leaders made it clear the change of leadership in Japan wouldn’t affect the overall arc of bilateral relations.
“Both Prime Ministers affirmed that the basic policy of Japan-India-emphasis remains unchanged, and concurred with each other that the two countries continue to work closely in such areas as security, economy, and economic cooperation including the high-speed rail project,” said the Japanese readout.
The external affairs ministry said the leaders were confident the strong momentum in the bilateral partnership will continue unabated, and Modi conveyed his intention to work closely with the new government of Japan.
Abe and Modi built a good working relationship and helped drive bilateral ties in a number of areas, especially economic cooperation, maritime security and the Indo-Pacific.
Abe, Japan’s longest serving prime minister, explained his decision to step down and expressed “gratitude for the friendship and the relationship of trust” built with Modi. He also noted the memories from their mutual annual visits. Modi expressed his appreciation for all the efforts by Abe and recalled the time they spent together, the Japanese readout said.
Modi reiterated his appreciation of Abe’s leadership for advancing the relationship between India and Japan.
Former navy chief Admiral (retired) Arun Prakash described the logistics support agreement with Japan as a welcome development in the realm of defence cooperation but said there continues to be scepticism as to whether Tokyo can help New Delhi in a war-like situation. “There are three factors at play here – Japan’s fears of China, Japan’s Constitution which allows it to have only self-defence forces and Japanese public opinion. But the signing of the agreement is encouraging as it can be seen as a sign of support and a sign of the convergence of interests,” he said.