Japan to join India and US in Indian Ocean war games

22 July 2015

Japan will be taking part in the annual India-US naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, in October, amidst increasing Chinese thrust into the Indian Ocean and beyond in an effort to grow its navy on a par with that of the US and Russia.

This will be the first time in eight years that Japan is taking part in a multilateral war game with India and the US in the Indian Ocean, military and diplomatic sources said.

Senior military officials from India, the US and Japan today met at an American naval base in Yokosuka, near Tokyo to plan Japan's participation in the upcoming Malabar Naval exercises.

Indian defence sources said the two-day meeting was an "initial planning conference" to work out the modalities for the exercises.

The meeting will decide on the type of warships and planes the navies will deploy for the exercises in the Bay of Bengal in the northeastern Indian Ocean, reports quoted sources familiar with the matter as saying.

"They are discussing platforms, logistics and interoperability between the three naval forces," said the source. India and the United States have fielded aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines in previous bilateral exercises.

An Indian defence ministry official declined any comment on Malabar 2015, saying announcements will only be made closer to the event. A spokesman for Japan's Maritime Self Defence Force said no decision had yet been taken on Japan's participation.

'Malabar' is an annual naval training exercise conducted by Indian and American Navies, which includes fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers and other manoeuvres.

The Indian Ocean has emerged as a new arena of competition as China seeks to deflect the dispute in the South China by making inroads into the Indian Ocean where India is trying to establish its position as the dominant maritime power.

The latest move to expand the "Malabar" exercises to include Japan suggests a tightening of military relations between three major maritime powers in Asia.

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