Amid the ongoing Sino-Indian standoff in Ladakh, the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces (JMSDF) conducted a joint training exercise in the Indian Ocean. The exercise that concluded on 27 June 2020 was held in the backdrop of Japan defence minister Taro Kono expressing concern over not only China’s defence capabilities but also its intention in the Indo-Pacific region. This was the first such statement from Japan following Beijing’s aggressive posturing in parts of Asia over the past few months.
  1. Coinciding with the Indo-Japan defence exercise, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) put out a statement that the South China Sea dispute should be resolved in line with international law, stressing on “the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint”.
  2. Indo-Japanese initiative as a goodwill training exercise to promote mutual understanding and trust with the Indian Navy, the timing of the exercise is significant. 
  3. The content of this exercise is tactical training and communication training with no specific scenario. 
  4. It was the 15th such training exercise between JMSDF and Indian Navy during the past three years following efforts by Delhi and Tokyo to widen defence partnership.
  5. The exercise consisted of four warships, two from each country, and the effort was aimed at signalling amid Beijing’s belligerence, noted the person quoted above. 
  6. The Indian Navy’s training vessels — INS Rana and INS Kulush — were joined by the Japanese Navy’s JS Kashima and JS Shimayuki
  7. Since 2000, the JMSDF is the world’s fourth largest navy by total tonnage and has been steadily expanding its fleet over the past few years amid China’s territorial claims in the Japanese waters.