Sunday, July 23, 2017

India, Japan target maritime security pact during Shinzo Abe’s September visit

By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | Updated: Jul 24, 2017, 01.37 AM IST

Planes in action during the sea phase of tri-Nation Malabar 2017 Exercise comprising India, Japan and US navies, in Bay of Bengal.

NEW DELHI: India and Japan hope to put in place a maritime security pact when PMShinzo Abe visits mid-September for theannual summit amid China’s growing aggression in East and South China Seas besides Indian Ocean Region — a common concern for both New Delhi and Tokyo.

Abe’s visit in the backdrop of the Sino-Indian standoff at Doklam could also help India and Japan develop a common understanding amid China’s unilateral moves to change the status quo along land boundary (Indo-Bhutan-China trijunction) and maritime boundary in East China Sea in Japan’s territory.

In the backdrop of the Sino-Indian boundary standoff, the Japanese PM’s visit for this edition of the annual summit gains added significance as both neighbours of China have been at the receiving end of Beijing’s encroachment along disputed boundaries. Besides a highlight of Abe’s trip could be attending a ceremony in Gujarat related to High Speed Railway project using Japanese Shinkansen technology funded by Tokyo. This is the only HSR project approved in India so far.

India plans to start construction of the approximately 500-km rail link between Ahmedabad and Mumbai in 2018 and get it operational in 2023. Japan has extended a $12 b package for HSR at a nominal interest of 0.1% for 50 years with a moratorium on repayments up to 15 years.

The agreement on the HSR, the MoU on civil nuclear cooperation and two defence pacts were key outcome of Abe’s last visit to India in December 2015. The civil nuclear pact was opernationalised last week

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