Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Abe woos Modi in a bid to contain China

By Cai Hong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-05 07:51

Before talking in person, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have reached out to each other via Twitter quite often. Modi is one of the three people whom Abe claims to follow on social media.

Abe's most recent tweet expressed his eagerness to meet with Modi days before his Indian guest embarked on a five-day visit to Japan, which started Saturday. On Monday the two elevated the Japan-India relationship to the "special strategic and global partnership".

Japan and India will launch a "two plus two" dialogue, involving their foreign and defense ministers. Japan has such dialogues with only the United States, Australia and France.

The two leaders agreed to continue joint naval exercises in addition to trilateral drills conducted with the US on a regular basis. And the two countries' coastguards will hold a joint exercise off the coast of Haneda in October.

They also agreed on promoting defense equipment and technology cooperation. Japan is mulling over exporting its maritime self-defense force's US-2 amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft to India. The plane, which has the capability to land on rough seas with waves of up to three meters and is suitable for long-range civilian and military applications, costs an estimated $110 million per unit.

India's navy is keen to acquire the amphibious aircraft and Japan is considering providing India low-interest loans to help it buy the expensive plane as it is eager to help India build a strong navy to contain China's influence in the India Ocean.

On April 1, the Abe Cabinet approved the relaxing of the principles and guidelines for weapons exports, ending a strict ban that had lasted nearly 50 years.

The sale of the US-2 amphibious aircraft will open up Japan's defense industry for additional contracts with foreign partners and stimulate Japan's defense industry.

Japan and India are also negotiating over a deal on nuclear energy cooperation.

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