India – Japan Cooperation – The Big Picture – RSTV IAS UPSC

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  • July 24, 2020
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The Big Picture- RSTV, UPSC Articles
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India – Japan Cooperation


TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighbours

In News: At a time when both India and Japan are facing hostility from China, warships from Indian Navy and Japanese Navy (Japan Maritime Self Defense Force) conducted a joint exercise in the Indian Ocean. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force described the manoeuvres as designed to “promote mutual understanding” and consisted of four warships, two from each country. 

  • Naval exercises are now routine between India and Japan, but the timing of the present exercise will be related with the military stand-off between India and China in Ladakh. 
  • The Indian navy training vessels INS Rana and INS Kulush were joined by the Japanese navy’s JS Kashima and JS Shimayuki. This was the 15th such exercise in three years. The focus of the exercise was interoperability between the two navies.
  • The Japanese navy has become one of the principal partners of the Indian Navy. Indian naval ships take part in the exercise, both bilaterally with their Japanese counterparts and as part of the Malabar Exercises, which include the United States.

Is China testing India and Japan?

The exercise is taking place when China is testing its neighbors including India and Japan.

  • Due to India-China standoff in Ladakh, Indian Navy is already at a high alert and it has deployed it assets to thwart any misadventure by Chinese Navy from the sea.
  • Japan had backed India during the Doklam standoff with China and has also expressed condolences on the death of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley during a clash with Chinese soldiers. Tokyo has only expressed condolences over the deaths of the Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley and pointedly said nothing about Chinese casualties.
  • The exercise in Indian Ocean is also significant as China is trying to increase its military presence in this region.
  • There is also growing tension between Japan and China over Senkaku islands. In recent days Chinese coast guard vessels had been repeatedly intruding into Japanese waters near the islands. Chinese state owned media Global Times on Sunday reported that Chinese Navy will be conducting military exercises in waters off the disputed Xisha Islands in the South China Sea from Wednesday to July 5 to send a signal to its rivals in the region.
  • The Japanese navy has itself been upgraded and expanded in recent years because of the territorial disputes it has with an increasingly aggressive China. Despite its Pacific constitution, Tokyo has inducted a “helicopter destroyer” that has the some tonnage as India’s aircraft carriers and is now building a “helicopter carrier” which has a full flight deck.
  • Japan has one of the best non-nuclear submarines in the world and cutting edge anti-submarine warfare technology. They are leaders in submarine detection. Not only can they find them, they can identify any variety of submarine.

Can Indian naval power prevent Chinese warships and submarines from accessing India’s near-seas?

Modern-day trading nations regard the oceans as a shared global common, with equal opportunity rights for all user states. Consequently, unless a sea-space is a site of overlapping claims (as in the case of the South China Sea) or a contested enclave in a geopolitically troubled spot (as the Persian Gulf), no coastal state ever actively denies another the use of the high seas.

This balance only changes during war, when navies seek to block adversaries from entering critical sea spaces in the contested littorals. During peace-time operations, however, maritime forces enjoy assured access to the seas that lie beyond national territorial waters (even if a coastal state insists on prior notification).


  • Indian Army deployments were “sector specific” but India needed to apply pressure across military theatres. Exercises like these remind Beijing that Indian military can quickly deny air cover for Chinese naval assets in the Indian Ocean – and that such plans are ready.
  • India needs to resort to a strategy of counter-power projection by expanding the scope of its naval deployments in the South China Sea, long considered a Chinese preserve. By gradually expanding security presence along the critical sea lanes of the Western Pacific, the Indian Navy must plan to use the South China Sea’s geopolitically sensitive spaces for the strategic power projection.


The Malabar Exercise: The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral one between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent member of the Malabar exercise in 2015.

“Two plus two” defense and foreign ministerial dialogue between India and Japan: 

  • India’s second such two plus two, after a similar exchange with the United States
  • Seen as an endorsement of the special strategic partnership between both the Nations.

Japan and India will be launching a joint lunar mission called the Lunar Polar Exploration (LPE):

  • The mission aims to put a lander and rover on Moon’s surface. 
  • The mission will be launched after 2023.
  • Japanese space agency JAXA would be building the overall landing module and the rover, while ISRO would develop the lander system.
  • It will be launched from Japan, and the designated launch vehicle is the H3 rocket. 
  • The mission intends to obtain data on the quantity and forms of water resources present, in order to determine the feasibility of utilizing such resources for sustainable space exploration activities in the future.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Write short notes on:
    1. Doklam crisis
    2. Galvan Valley
    3. China’s naval posture in the Indian Ocean region
  2. India needs to leverage naval operations for geopolitical purposes. Do you agree? Explain.
  3. Maritime power projection, and not sea denial, is the answer to China’s creeping assertiveness in South Asia. Discuss.
  4. The quadrilateral posturing by India, the US, Japan and Australia in the Indo-Pacific is critical to counter the aggression of China in the region. Comment.

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