Japan, India reaffirm joint role in ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’

India and Japan reaffirmed their partnership in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy on Monday in Tokyo, agreeing to strengthen security cooperation and expand joint exercises that could serve as a check against expanding Chinese interests in the high seas.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) held a summit in Tokyo on Monday. Pool Photo by Koji Sasahara/EPA-EFE
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) held a summit in Tokyo on Monday. Pool Photo by Koji Sasahara/EPA-EFE

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and India’s Narendra Modi said they will cooperate on defense for a free and open Indo-Pacific, NHK and Kyodo News reported.

The two leaders discussed ways to increase participation among Southeast Asian nations and draw the interest of African countries, according to Japanese press reports.

In order to strengthen cooperation in the defense sector, the two sides agreed to hold diplomatic and defense “2+2” meetings at the ministerial level.

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Economic partnerships were also discussed.

Nikkei reported Monday the two countries agreed to a $75 billion bilateral currency swap that would enhance foreign exchange stability.

According to Shamshad Ahmad Khan, a visiting associate fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi, the swap would allow India to borrow U.S. dollars from Japan. In return, India would give Japan rupees to stabilize the currency.

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“This is very important considering the timing when [the] Indian rupee is depreciating,” Khan said.

During the summit, Abe said he supports measures to introduce Japan’s high-speed rail technology, or Shinkansen, in western India.

Other cooperation will take place in the areas of artificial intelligence and India’s medical infrastructure, according to reports.

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The agreements come at a time when Japan is increasing defense on a southern island.

Kyodo reported Monday Tokyo is deploying missile units on Ishigaki Island. Plans are also underway to deploy 500 to 600 Japanese troops, facing waters where Chinese vessels have been intercepted in Japanese territorial waters.

ByElizabeth Shim