New Delhi: Ahead of the annual summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that will take place in India in mid-December, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Friday announced that the first-ever “India-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue (2+2)” would be held in New Delhi on Saturday for “further deepening of bilateral security and defence cooperation”. New Delhi said the two sides would “exchange views on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and their respective efforts under India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and Japan’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision’.”
The MEA said in a statement, “The inaugural meeting of India-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue (2+2) will be held on 30th November 2019 in New Delhi. This meeting is being held in pursuance of the decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Abe during the 13th India-Japan Annual Summit held in October 2018 to institute a Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue for further deepening bilateral cooperation. Union ministers Rajnath Singh and S. Jaishankar will head the Indian delegation for 2+2, while the Japanese delegation will be led by foreign affairs minister Toshimitsu Motegi and minister of defence Taro Kono.”
The MEA added, “The 2+2 meeting would provide an opportunity for the two sides to review the status of and exchange further views on strengthening defence and security cooperation between India and Japan so as to provide greater depth to the ‘India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership’. The two sides will also exchange views on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and their respective efforts under India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and Japan’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision’ for achieving their shared objective of peace, prosperity and progress to realise a better future for the people of the two countries and the region.”
There are indications that the Annual Summit between Japanese Prime Minister Abe and PM Modi is likely to take place in the north-east, probably in Guwahati, Assam, in mid-December. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had earlier this year said the “two prime ministers are personal friends”.
The developments in the Indo-Pacific region and also trilateral cooperation with African countries are keen subjects of interest between the two nations. Observers see the India-Japan ties as significant, in the context of China’s military assertiveness in the region and its huge investments in Africa.
It was also earlier decided by the two countries to continue the “tradition” of holding trilateral Japan-America-India (JAI) meetings at various fora when leaders of the three nations are present. Japan is already a permanent member of the trilateral naval “Malabar” exercises with India and the US and both India and Japan are also members of the four-nation “Quad” arrangement (along with the US and Australia) that focuses on maintenance of a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.