Japan, India to strengthen defense cooperation


TOKYO (AP) — Japan and India affirmed on Monday plans to strengthen their military cooperation amid rising tension in the Asian region.

Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley told his Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada, in Tokyo that his country hopes to pursue a strategic partnership with Japan for regional peace and stability.

His visit comes at a time of rising tension in the region, including territorial rows in the South China Sea and nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

Jaitley welcomed a planned trilateral naval exercise among the U.S., India and Japan in July as a way of strengthening cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

“This is all reflective of the level of cooperation our armed forces have with each other,” he said.

Japan and India have been stepping up defense cooperation amid China’s increased assertiveness in the region.

China has long been wary of joint maritime exercises between India and the United States.

Japan, a staunch U.S. ally that hosts about 50,000 American troops, has in recent years developed military cooperation with other countries, including Australia, France, Britain and the Philippines. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to expand Japan’s defense role and capability amid security concerns over China and North Korea.

Jaitley, who is also India’s finance minister, visited Japan to attend an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank that ended Sunday.

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Associated Press videojournalist Emily Wang in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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