In a bid to take forward the bilateral engagement in defence and security cooperation with Japan Defence Minister A.K. Antony will travel to Tokyo this week.

The regional and global security scenario, maritime security, and piracy in the Gulf of Aden are some of the issues that will figure prominently in talks between Mr. Antony and his Japanese counterpart Yasho Jchikawa on November 2.

Both sides would discuss cooperation between the armed forces in rendering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, training and co-operation in U.N. peace-keeping operations and bilateral exchanges, Defence Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said adding that cooperation through regional and multilateral fora (like the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+) would also be discussed.

High on the agenda are bilateral exercises by the navies of the two nations, which came in for a special mention during External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna's visit to Japan last week. “I suggested that the Indian and Japanese Navies conduct bilateral exercises apart from multilateral ones. Our Defence Minister will be in Tokyo in a few days and discuss this subject in greater detail with his counterpart,'' he told journalists.

Naval exercises with Japan were held under the trilateral ‘Malabar' series along with the United States. The 2007 exercise led to China raising objections and the one this summer off the Okinawa coast could not take place after Japan expressed inability to take part in it post-Fukushima earthquake.

To begin with, the Indian Navy plans to have passage exercises whenever Japanese warships travel through the region on the way up or down from anti-piracy deployment. Two ships from Japan were in Kochi last week on the way to Gulf of Aden.

India and Japan run independent anti-piracy missions in the region and after the 2010 meeting between two Defence Ministers here, it was understood both sides decided to exchange information on the escorting schedules. The bilateral engagement between the two Defence Ministers is part of a regular comprehensive review of cooperation Tokyo and New Delhi have and fits into increasing dialogue India is having with countries in South East Asia, including South Korea and Asean member-states.

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