The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, has paid an official visit to Japan from 19 December 2016 in a bid to consolidate existing Maritime Cooperation initiatives as well as explore new avenues.
Defence cooperation between India and Japan is currently robust and is primarily focused towards Maritime Cooperation ever since the commencement of the India-Japan Comprehensive Security Dialogue which was initiated in 2001.
Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) has participated in the MALABAR exercise in 2007, 2009, 2014 prior being included as a regular member in the exercise since 2015. JMSDF participated in MALABAR 15 and 16 held in the Bay of Bengal and Western Pacific respectively.
In 2014, Japan has also been included as an observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a Maritime Cooperation construct conceptualised and pioneered by Indian Navy in 2008.
Both navies also engage in Navy to Navy Staff Talks which commenced in 2008. The 7th Navy to Navy Staff Talks are scheduled to be held in 2017. JDS Matsuyuki participated in the International Fleet Review 2016 held at Visakhapatnam.
The Chief of Staff of the JMSDF, Admiral Tomihisa Takei also attended the Review. Indian Navy too participated in the International Fleet Review conducted by the JMSDF in Oct 15 at Sagami Bay, Yokosuka, Japan.
JMSDF for the first time participated in the Admiral’s Cup Sailing Regatta conducted by the Indian Navy in 2016 at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala from 05 to 11 Dec 16. Warships of both countries regularly visit each other’s ports.
India and Japan share similar maritime challenges such as long coastline, extensive EEZ, coastal security, large coastal shipping and fishing fleet, wherein both navies have opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences. In addition common ground exists for cooperation on a number of issues common to both navies.
During the visit, Admiral Sunil Lanba is scheduled to hold discussions with Chief of Staff, JMSDF, Minister of State for Defence, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff besides other Senior Dignitaries and Naval Officers.
The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilisational ties. India’s earliest documented direct contact with Japan was with the Todaiji Temple in Nara, where the consecration or eye-opening of the towering statue of Lord Buddha was performed by an Indian monk, Bodhisena, in 752 AD.
In contemporary times, among prominent Indians associated with Japan were Swami Vivekananda, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, JRD Tata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Judge Radha Binod Pal. The Japan-India Association was set up in 1903, and is today the oldest international friendship body in Japan.