India is expanding its defense ties with Japan

 India is expanding its defense ties with Japan, a newfound strategic partner in the region, said a senior Defence Ministry official here.

The chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal P.V. Naik, left Sept. 28 for Japan to participate in the first military-to-military talks between the two countries. Naik's visit to Tokyo comes three months ahead of a visit to Japan by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

Naik, who is also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee here, will meet with Maj. Gen. Koichiro Bansho, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's director-general for policy and programs. Their talks will include regional security issues and events in which the two forces will participate, the Defence Ministry official said.

During Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony's visit to Japan last year, the two countries expressed their commitment to contribute to bilateral and regional cooperation, the ministry official said.

Defense analysts here view Indo-Japanese strategic ties as part of an effort to build regional partnerships to counter the growing influence of China.

The overdependence of Japan and India on oil imports from the Arabian Gulf and the need to jointly ensure its smooth flow is another major driver behind the growing Indo-Japanese relationship, said defense analyst Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general.


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