It is no surprise that China has been expanding its footprint considerably. From the South China Sea to Silk Road to even Africa, they are not leaving any stones unturned. This is giving major alerts to nations like the USA, Japan, and India. The tri-lateral dialogue between the three nations in November 2017 was a direct consequence of the growing Chinese influence across the region. Japan too has been an active participant is countering Chinese influence mainly in the South China Sea. And to aid the friendship and cooperation between the nations, India and Japan is likely to share military bases soon.
The pact to share and use each other’s military bases for basic logistics and maintenance was mooted in August when Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera met in New Delhi. Soon after the meeting, discussions between two nations was in full swing to get the decision onto paper. Last week, National Security Advisers of both nations met in New Delhi to discuss the agreement.
It is highly likely that the agreement would be inked when Indian PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe meets on the 13th Indo-Japanese Summit in Tokyo on October 29 and October 29. If the agreement sees daylight, it could give militaries of both nations to share resources, logistical support, transportation, maintenance, medical assistance, fuel and utilize military bases for logistics purpose.
The biggest perk for Indian military is that it could use the sole Japanese overseas base in Djibouti, where incidentally China has a base too. The Chinese base in Djibouti is part of its “String of Pearls” policy which has raised some tension in Indian military circles lately, which is strategically located near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which separates the Gulf of Aden from the Red Sea and guards the approaches to the Suez Canal.
INS Trikand during her visit to Djibouti. Credits to ownersThere isn’t any doubt about the advantages gained by Japan by signing the deal. They are possibly looking at the Indian Naval base in Andaman and Nicobar Islands which is a major listening point for Chinese subs passing through. The area also holds significance due to its close proximity to the key underwater communication cables connecting Europe to Asia.
The move is seen as something of immense strategic value and is almost sure to see the green light during the summit. The agreement could bolster India’s position as a major power in the area and would also aid in keeping an eye on Chinese activities in the area. For the Indian Navy, it has been quite difficult to operate in the area without no major logistical support systems and in a way has hampered India’s Anti-Piracy operations in the area.
India has taken some very promising steps in order to concrete its presence as a major stakeholder in the Indian Ocean. The Quadrilateral dialogue between US, Japan, Australia, and India was a major step in the direction and China was not very happy with it. Deepening military and diplomatic ties has been one of the prime agenda of the Narendra Modi government and is sure to reap in future.
The agreement if signed will be the 3rd major logistic support agreement after a breakthrough pact with the US and one with France.