Visakhapatnam, Feb 8 (IANS) India is an “important” country in the Indian Ocean region and will have to take responsibility for security in the area, said Japan Maritime Self Defence Force chief Admiral Tomohisa Takei who is here to take part in the International Fleet Review.
The Admiral also said that the IFR is an important event to enhance cooperation among the navies and will provide a platform for further dialogue.
“We want better cooperation in the India Ocean; India is a very important country in the region. We would like to enhance relations with India,” Admiral Takei told IANS.
“India, with its location, will have to take responsibility for peace and security in the Indian Ocean region, from East Africa, to South China Sea,” he said.
The Japanese Navy chief higlighted the fact that the Indian Ocean region accounted for 50 percent of the world’s population and has huge volumes of trade passing through the waters.
“India is in the centre of the region”.
India and Japan are often called by experts as “natural allies” in the region. Defence relations between the two countries have been enhanced of late, with the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe giving it further push.
Japan, with India and the US, is also a part of naval exercise Malabar, which has caused discomfort to China.
The exercise, which started as a bilateral one between India and the US now has Japan as a permanent partner. In 2007, when Japan and Australia were included in the exercise, China had issued a demarche to the countries.
Recently, on a tour to India, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said that China’s objection was “fine” as it was not a part of the exercise. He also said that the exercise should be “inclusive” without declaring whether US wanted China’s participation.
Asked if involving China in the exercise can be considered, Admiral Takei said: “There is no difference in China or any other country.”
The Admiral described the IFR, which saw participation of 50 navies, as “a platform which can enhance interoperability”.
“Exercise at peace time makes the foundation for emergency.”
Takei also fondly remembered his participation as a “young captain” in the previous edition of the IFR in 2001.
“The world is taking India more seriously now, India has gown as a nation,” he said.
Japan as sent its anti-submarine destroyer JS Matsuyuki to participate in the IFR.
In October last year, India had also sent its Shivalik class stealth multi-role frigate INS Sahyadri to participate in a fleet review organised by the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force.
The IFR held at Visakhapatnam saw participation from 50 navies, with 24 foreign ships, and 71 Indian Navy ships. This was the second time the IFR was organised in India — the largest military exercise the country has held so far.
China, the US and Australia were among the participating navies.