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Monday, 16 May 2016

Japan to join US-India naval exercises again

Japan will participate in a naval exercise with India and the U.S. again next month near Okinawa, increasing cooperation among three nations that share concerns about China’s growing blue-water presence. Japan for a third consecutive year will join Malabar, a series of originally bilateral drills that began in 1992. Japanese and Indian leaders agreed in December that Japan should take part regularly.The location varies: In 2014, Malabar stretched from the waters off Japan’s western
island of Shikoku to the east of Okinawa. This time, ships and aircraft will practice coordinated anti-submarine and anti-aircraft combat as well as search and rescue operations. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force is expected to send a helicopter carrier and surveillance and rescue planes. Japan and India have “a shared interest” in maritime security, a Japanese government source said. India juts into the vital sea lanes that connect Japan and the Middle East, which supplies much of Japan’s energy. Both India and Japan are concerned that China is extending its naval reach into the Indian Ocean, just as the country is doing in the seas to its south and east, and building up Chinese sea and air forces. Japan and India have been advancing bilateral defense cooperation. Talks are underway on exporting Japanese-made US-2 amphibious rescue planes to India. The two nations have signed agreements on sharing classified defense information and transferring military equipment and technologies.

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