India, Japan to hold first ministerial 2+2 dialogue on peace in Indo-Pacific region
India and Japan are set to hold the first combined dialogue of their foreign and defence ministers on November 30 in the run up to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India next month for the annual summit, people familiar with developments said.
The two countries started a “2+2 dialogue” at the level of officials in 2010, and Abe and his Indian counterpart decided to upgrade it to the ministerial level during their summit in Japan in October last year.
The talks between the foreign and defence ministers of the two sides in New Delhi will focus on advancing cooperation for peace and progress in the Indo-Pacific region, the people cited above said. Abe is expected to visit India by the middle of December for the 14th annual summit, they said.
The 2+2 ministerial dialogue reflects the growing relations between India and Japan, especially on strategic and security issues, and the desire of both countries to create a rules-based framework to ensure the Indo-Pacific region remains free, fair, and inclusive. The two countries, both major importers of energy, are keen to ensure freedom of navigation in regional waters against the backdrop of China’s increasingly assertive behaviour.
India and Japan have also made progress in efforts aimed at maritime domain awareness in regional waters and are currently engaged in negotiations for an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, which is aimed at boosting joint efforts on military hardware.
The armies and air forces of the two countries held their first bilateral exercises last year but a Japanese proposal to sell the US-2 amphibious aircraft to India appears to have run into trouble, largely due to the cost of the aircraft.
In the 2+2 dialogue at the level of officials last year, the two countries had “discussed measures to strengthen cooperation in fields such as counterterrorism, maritime security, defence equipment and technology [and] peacekeeping operations”, according to a statement from the external affairs ministry.
During the India-Japan defence dialogue in September, defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Japanese counterpart Takeshi Iwaya said peace and stability in the Indian and Pacific Oceans are “crucial for ensuring prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region”. They also discussed the security situation in the Indo-Pacific, including developments on the Korean peninsula and the South China Sea.