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.