For the first time since World War II, Japan has offered to export weapons to any country and India is first on its list. This forging of close ties with India is seen as an effort by Tokyo to counter the growing Chinese influence in Asia.
The offer of weapons includes electronic warfare equipment, patrol vessels and high tech equipment. Japan has also offered to set up joint
ventures (JVs) in defence in India thereby providing cutting-edge technology to the local private and public sector.
Army Chief General Bikram Singh will visit Tokyo next month. Besides delegation level talks will be held here between the Navies of the two countries in late November.
Signalling a major policy shift regarding export of weapons banned since 1945, Japan has chosen India as the first country for sale of defence equipment besides offering to transfer cutting-edge technology through JVs to give a boost to Indian public and private defence companies.
Tokyo made these significant offers to New Delhi recently through official channels, sources said here on Sunday. Welcoming the gesture from one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of defence technology, India, however, informed Japan that its companies can participate through global competition. Tokyo has now allowed some of its firms to respond to the Indian Navy’s tender for seaplanes.
After facing nuclear holocaust in World War II, Japan, so far, produced weapons for its self-defence and practiced pacifist policies regarding export of weapons. Incidentally, Japan imports most of its big-ticket weaponry from the US through transfer of technology and, in turn, exports state-of-the-art
equipment to the US.
However, Japan now wants to break this isolation due to growing economic and strategic challenges from China.
Incidentally, some Japanese armament manufacturing companies for the first time took part in international defence exhibition, Def-Expo, organised in Delhi earlier this year. India plans to buy weapons and defence equipment worth over 30 billion dollars in the next five to seven years and Japan is keen to have its presence in the Indian market, sources said.
In the past few years Japan has consciously forged close strategic relations with India given its growing maritime prowess in the Indian Ocean region and Asia. Willing to export weapons to India is part of Japan’s strategic vision to negate Chinese influence in East and South China Sea by having close relations with other countries like Indonesia and Philippines.
Moreover, India and Japan have in the past conducted exercises between Coast Guards of two countries. For the first time they will have a full-fledged naval exercise later this year. Army Chief General Bikram Singh will also visit Tokyo early next month and is likely to explore possibilities of having first-ever joint exercises with the Japanese Army.
Besides this, Staff Exchanges between Japan Air Defence Force (ASDF) and Indian Air Force will be held in 2012 and be developed to Staff Talks at the earliest date.
The groundwork for these exercises and exchanges was done by Defence Minister AK Antony during his visit to Japan in November last year. While taking stock of maritime security and anti-piracy measures with his counterpart Yasuo Ichikawa, he also stressed for closer defence ties with Japan in the coming years.