Displaying strategic convergence, India and Japan on Thursday asked North Korea to shut down its nuclear and missile programmes.
Both sides also hinted at Pakistan’s past involvement with North Korean nuclear and missile programmes and sought accountability of “all parties” who helped Pyongyang acquire nuclear technology even as Japan promised to help India deal with cross-border terrorism.
“Japan and India will take firm steps against the challenges that have emanated from North Korea. We will force North Korea to roll back its recent aggressive moves. This is a message that I send out along with Prime Minister [Narendra Modi],” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, elaborating Japanese concerns about the recent test of a hydrogen bomb by Pyongyang, which also fired a long-range missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on August 29.
High-level sources hinted that Mr. Abe’s speech, which draws India into the escalating crisis over North Korean nuclear tests, reflects India’s growing “aspiration” to play a role befitting New Delhi’s rising status. Both sides also pledged to mount pressure on North Korea.
A joint statement issued after the summit sought the implementation of Resolution 1267 of the UN Security Council to counter cross-border terrorism.
Hinting at India’s Pakistan-related concerns, Press Secretary of the government of Japan Norio Maruyama said Tokyo could help India deal with the threat of cross-border terrorism.
“This support can be provided both indirectly in international platforms or directly to deal with organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Islamic State,” Mr. Maruyama said.
Help for Northeast
In a significant move, Japan also stated its interest in the strategically important northeastern region of the country. Japan, at present, has two infrastructure projects in Meghalaya and Mizoram and more projects are likely to be added to the list after feasibility studies, said Mr. Maruyama.
Both the points about North Korea and the reference to Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy – developed to deal with the Chinese influence – are significant in view of the now-resolved Doklam crisis that erupted between India and China.
“As strategic partners, we discussed all issues that are strategically important to both sides, during the bilateral talks,” said Mr. Maruyama, highlighting that both sides stood for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
The two leaders also pointed out that maritime cooperation between the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and the Indian Navy had expanded to include ‘anti-submarine aspects’ and acknowledged the need for greater maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Indo-Pacific Region. Both sides also agreed to support small islands in the region as part of their common strategy.
The joint statement emphasised expansion of joint exercises in areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), peacekeeping operations and counter-terrorism, which will also include joint field exercises between the Japanese and Indian land forces next year. It further stated, “Both sides noted recent progress in... the commencement of the technical discussion for the future research collaboration in the area of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotics.”
The statement described the state-of-the-art U.S.-2 amphibian aircraft as a symbol of “high degree of trust between the two countries.” Briefing the media, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said “very serious negotiation is on regarding the issue.”
Modi for Japanese food
In a speech welcoming Mr. Abe, Mr. Modi urged greater Japanese presence in the Indian society and business and said the number of Japanese citizens in India would go up in the coming years.
“Japanese people living in India will be able to import Japanese food from home. I welcome more Japanese restaurants in India. ,” said Mr. Modi.