October 19, 2008

ALONG THE AXIS:

India, Japan to sign security pact during PM's visit (Indrani Bagchi, 10/20/08, TNN)

The standalone security cooperation agreement comes after several years of sustained work by both sides, which now needs to be ramped up to a different level. The last joint statement between Shinzo Abe and Manmohan Singh had a big chunk devoted to security and strategic cooperation, but a standalone agreement, sources said, would make it easier for both militaries to work together on the ground, in terms of exercises, ship visits and joint patrolling of the seas.

The political significance of the security agreement will not be missed in many parts of the world, not least of which will be Beijing, where Singh will be headed after he's done in Tokyo.

Japan needs Indian cooperation to provide cover for its oil-laden ships on the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz. India, which might be looking at transporting oil from Sakhalin, needs Japanese cover (although thus far, India has been selling its share of the oil and bringing in the proceeds). Second, Japanese ships providing support to its self-defence forces in Afghanistan need "friendly" docks in India for repairs or for just a breather.

Third, India is looking to buy some critical defence technologies and equipment from Japan at better rates — as Japanese equipment is cutting-edge, it's also very expensive. For Japan, once the government works through its constitutional constraints, India is a market that Tokyo would like to explore.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2008 6:56 PM
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