India-Japan Maritime Security Cooperation (1999-2009)
: A Report
Guest Researcher
“A Strong India is in the best interest of Japan, and a strong Japan is in
the best interest of India.”
Former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe
Speech at the Indian parliament, 22 August 2007

India-Japan interactions have been marked by goodwill and singularly free
from any structural impediments. However, the bilateral relationship between the
two started to take centre stage only after the end of Cold War. However, both
countries refrained from discussing defence and security matters, until Prime
Minister Mori visit to India in 2000. The brief talk between two Prime Ministers in
New Delhi removed many deadlocks in the bilateral relationship. Since then,
India-Japan relationship maintained steady course and attained the stature of
“Strategic Partnership” in 2005. The remarkable change in Indo-Japan
relationship in the post-Cold War dramatically changed the security perspective of
Asia-pacific region. Notably, maritime security cooperation between the two
countries captured global attention. At the same time, the growing interaction
between two naval forces in the recent years raised some serious questions about
the intention and objectives of India-Japan maritime security cooperation.
A preliminary literature survey on this topic reveals that, not too many
research works has been done on this subject. Most of literature on India-Japan
relationship largely focuses on complicated relationship that existed between two
countries during post-world war era or bilateral relationship in Post-Cold War.
This policy analysis is important because it focuses exclusively on India-Japan
maritime security cooperation to identify the key factor to strengthen the strategic
cooperation. In the pragmatic international system, it is crucially important to JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
analysis and identifies weakness and strength in the strategic cooperation. This
paper will critically analyse India-Japan maritime security cooperation. Since,
after Alondra Rainbow incident in 1999, both India-Japan seriously pushed
cooperation in maritime field. Therefore, this research will focus on the time period
of 1999-2009.
Brief History
India-Japan relationship is deeply rooted in historical and cultural
interaction. Osamu Kondo says, Japanese thought that the world consisted of
three countries, namely Japan, China and India.1 As a neighboring country,
Japanese were well aware of Chinese tradition and culture, as Buddhism become
popular among Japanese, India came to be known as the country of Buddha.
Many Japanese Buddhist monks tried to visit India, after many attempts few
succeeded to reach India. Konga Zammai is one of the monks entered mainland of
India in 818. From India sub-continent, a Buddhist priest called Bodhisen third
son of Tamil Pallavan King travelled to Japan from China in 735. But, sea-route is
not explored until 1548 when three Japanese Christians visited Goa, first
Japanese to travel across Indian Ocean to reach India.2 Apart from those rare
incidents, India remained almost inaccessible to Japanese.
Further, a national seclusion order in 1635 and 1639 severely restricted all
foreign ships to enter Japan and prohibits Japanese to visit abroad. The
self-imposed isolation policy severely restrained Japanese interaction with the
international community. Despite the restriction, British East India Company
sent their ships Return to Japan in 1674 to reopen direct trade, but the ship was
not allowed to enter Japan and sent back to India.3 Otherwise, British East
Indian Company had great desire for Japan could have established deep economic
relationship. Japan isolation policy came to an end in 1854 after Commodore
Perry order to open the Japanese port to the US merchant ships. Japanese never

1 Osamu Kondo, Japan and the Indian Ocean at the Times of the Mughal Empire, with
Special reference to Gujarat, Satish Chandran (ed.). The Indian Ocean: Exploration in History,
Commerce and Politics (New Delhi 1987)
2 Ibid
3 Edward Maunde Thompson(eds), Diary of Richard Cooks: cape merchant in the English
factory in Japan, 1615-1622, with correspondence, (New York: 1964) JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
seen steam boat realized the importance of industrialization to match itself with
foreign power. The spur in thinking rapidly changed Japan into modern industrial
nation in the late 19th century.
Indians under the British colonial rule saw Japan as a role model for
development. Many Indian eminent scholars visited Japan during this period to
study the transformation in the society. Then, Japan military victory over Russia,
thrilled Indian freedom struggle movement in the Sub-continent. In many ways,
historical and cultural events influenced each other principles and ideas in
different ways. But, in political terms the relationship failed to gain momentum
because of Japan policy in Cold War is largely governed by two factors, the legacies
of the Second World War and the compulsion of the Cold War.4 During World War
II, Japanese Imperial Army’s aggression over East Asia and Southeast Asian
strained Japanese image abroad. As the result, Japan’s Post-World War external
policies are largely governed to make over Japan’s image in Asia. Interestingly,
India did not claim war reparations from Japan. At the same time, Indian Justice
Radha Bindo Pal’s dissentient judgment in the International Military Tribunal for
the Far East caught Japanese attention on Judge Pal and on India. In 1952,
Japan regained sovereignty and India signed peace treaty with Japan in the same
year. Before the bilateral relationship reaches its potential, Cold War politics
strained the relationship. Japan skeptical about India’s non-alignment policy
limits Tokyo ties with New Delhi to trade and development assistance. The
relationships seemingly become active only after the end of Cold War. The
importances of non-military threats and issues like terrorism, piracy, proliferation
of Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) have assumed new importance.5
The change in the security environment in the post-cold war and the
emergence of non-traditional security threat subsequently changed the dynamics
of security relations between the two nations. India-Japan has also realized the
importance to rejuvenate the diplomatic ties to sustain peace and security of Asia.
The bilateral relationship stagnated during Cold War assumed new position in the
post-Cold War. As a maritime nation, two countries understood the importance of

4 K.V Kesavan, India and Japan Changing Dimension of Partnership in the Post-Cold War
Period, ORF Occasional Paper#14 (New Delhi: 2010)
5 Ibid JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
security of Sea-lane have also shown great willingness to work hand-in-hand to
combat non-traditional security threats to safeguard safety and security of
maritime space.

Building Maritime Security Cooperation: Glimpse on Joint Statements
Any study on India-Japan maritime security cooperation could thus be
incomplete without analyzing the Joint Statements. The Joint Statements, the
visit of high dignitaries from both the sides signifies the importance of the bilateral
relationship in the new millennium. Therefore, the study made an attempt to
explain in detail about the various Joint Statements issued between 1999-2009, to
understand the nature of bilateral relationship and the importance of maritime
security cooperation.
Prime Minister Mori landmark visit to India in August 2000, signifies both
Japan and India resolve to take their bilateral relations to a qualitatively new
level. During the discussion Prime Minister Mori and Indian counter part Atal
Bihari Vajpayee agreed to establish the “Global Partnership in the 21st century.”6
Prime Minister Mori visit to India reflects a major strategic change in Japanese
regional diplomacy. Nevertheless, Mori was the first Prime Minister from Japan to
institutionalize high level dialogue, comprehensive security dialogue, cooperation
in anti-piracy operation and security dialogue between Japan and India. During
this period, Indian Defence minister travelled to Japan and hold discussion on
exchange of ship visit and bilateral security dialogue with Foreign Minister Yohei
Kono and Japanese Defence Agency Director General, T. Kawara.7 By July, both
Japan and India started first session on Comprehensive Security Dialogue and
military-to-military talk to discuss ways and means to further enhance bilateral
defence cooperation.
As the bilateral relation compounds into new form, Japan government on 26
October 2001 announces to discontinue the measure on India, which the Japanese
government had taken in response to the nuclear tests conducted by Indian in

6 C. Raja Mohan, India, Japan unveil new global partnership, The Hindu, 24 August 2000,
7 Minister of External Affair India, Annual Report 2000-2001. JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
May 1998.8 Followed by Yoshiro Mori former prime minister three day visit to
India as a special envoy of Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi to discuss about
“Japan-India global partnership” and regional issues like Afghanistan, terrorism,
which helped to uplift bilateral relationship, strained by 1998 pokharan nuclear
test. Commenting on the new development in the bilateral relationship, Japanese
ambassador to India Hiroshi Hirabayashi says the “discontinuation of economic
measures by the government of Japan will pave the way for resumption of loan
and grant assistance to new projects in India, thereby propelling India-Japan
relations into a new phase of friendship and cooperation.” 9 The mutual
understanding finally led two head of the state to sign the historical accord called
Japan-India Joint Declaration.
Japan-India Joint Declaration-2001
On December 2001, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee paid visit to
Japan. This was the first visit since Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit in 1992.
The visiting Indian Prime Minister and Japanese counter part Junichiro Koizumi
agreed to strengthen the Global Partnership for the 21st Century based on
“strategic convergence and economic complementaries.” After discussion on wide
range of bilateral and regional issue a substantive Japan-India Joint declaration
was issued on 10 December 2001. This was for the first time both Japan and India
have set forth for active bilateral security cooperation for:
“Comprehensive Security Dialogue covering the entire
range of issues of mutual concern including disarmament
and non-proliferation, as well as Military-to-Military
consultations, and also confirmed that the two sides would
hold a dialogue on counter-terrorism in the framework of
the Japan-India Comprehensive Security Dialogue.”10

8 See, Japan-India Joint Declaration, MOFA, December 2001,
9 Former Japanese Premier Mori Visit to India, The Times of India,
10 See, “Joint Statement on Japan-India Joint Declaration,” MOFA. JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
As Japan increasingly worried about the regional and global issue the joint
statement will enhance moderate cooperation in security field to combat
non-traditional security threats in Indian Ocean. More interestingly, the issue of
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is classified under the global challenges
not under bilateral relation was a great relief for India, which remain source of
contention in bilateral talk. Japan positive gesture towards the bilateral
relationship is well received in Indian strategic circle. At the same time, Japan
acknowledges rescue of hijacked Alondra rainbow in 1999 by Indian Navy-Coast
Guard. In overall, the joint statement made, both the countries to realize strategic
importance for getting together to contribute to regional and global security.
Prime Minister Mori’s visit in 2000 and reciprocal visit made by Indian
counterpart in 2001 to Tokyo paved a new way ahead in establishing strong
bilateral defence mechanism, which led Koizumi to visit India in 2005 to widen
the cooperation in maritime field.
Towards India-Japan Partnership in a New Asian Era: Strategic
Orientation of India-Japan Global Partnership-2005.
Both the nations continued their effort to concertise the India-Japan Global
partnership in the 21st century. Defence authorities take this opportunity to
broaden and deepen the security cooperation. As a significant step forward,
Cabinet Minister and Director General of Defence Agency of Japan Mr. Shigeru
Ishiba visited India in 2003 on an invitation from Indian Defence Ministry to
discuss nuclear nexus between Pakistan and North Korea. Japanese Ambassador
Mr. Yasukuni Enoki describe this is an “indicator of the growing strategic
importance of India in Japan’s eyes.”11 On the other hand, nuclear remains the
flashpoint in the bilateral relationship. On the sideline of Asian Cooperation
Dialogue (ACD) in China, on foreign ministerial meeting Japan Ministry of
Foreign Affair Kawaguchi Yoriko insisted that India should sign and ratify CTBT
and NPT.12 While, India maintained its commitment to self moratorium on

11 Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Yasukuni Enoki’s Message (2004-2007),
12 Satu P. Limaye, India-East Asia Relations: 2004: A Year of Living Actively, JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
no-further nuclear test and determined to maintain strict control over export of
nuclear and missile technology. In the meantime, Japan foreign office issuing
statements asking India to refrain from testing ballistic missile, catered negative
feeling in rapidly advancing strategic relationship between two nations.13 Despite,
Japan lifting of economic sanction on India after demonstration of its nuclear
capability in 1998, Japan fundamental stand on India’s nuclear and missile
development remain unchanged.
However, Japan is cautious in not allowing nuclear issue to overshadow
ongoing bilateral cooperation with India. Particularly, Japanese ambassador to
India Mr. Yasukuni Enoki in various media interaction and public speech, he

“Japan will position India as a major power in Asian
and international society and that Japan has strong
desire to strengthen its global partnership with India
which is essential for stability, prosperity and peace of
the world. This is the number one message our foreign
minister delivered to the Indian side (2004). We have
no doubt that India is also seeing Japan in the same

India has also understood Japanese sentiment towards nuclear issue, seeks
common ground in establishing meaningful bilateral strategic relationship. As
piracy and armed robbery started to hurt Japanese SLOC’s in Southeast Asian
water, India stepped up its cooperation in maritime field. An Indian delegation
headed by Deputy Director General Prabhakaran Paleri of Coast Guard attend
meeting of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed
Robbery against ships in Asia in 2003. In the same year, an Indian Coast Guard

13 See, Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on a Missile Launch Test by India,
14 Subhash Kapil, Japan-India Strategic Dialogue Requires More Political Synergy,
http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers13%5Cpaper1264.html JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
vessel visited Japan to take part in fourth India-Japan Coast Guard exercise, to
mark the event Director General of Coast Guard and Vice Admiral Suresh Mehta
visited Japan to witness the exercise.15 As becoming Chief of Naval Staff in 2006,
Admiral Suresh Mehta supervised many joint Coast Guard exercise and played
key role in institutionalizing bilateral maritime cooperation with Japan.
Nevertheless, Indian Coast Guard Director General Prabhakaran Paleri equally
played important role in structuring Japan-India maritime cooperation, even
after his retirement from Indian Coast guard Mr. P. Paleri through his writing, he
continued his effort to strengthen bilateral cooperation in maritime field and he
was a visiting fellow to Tokyo based Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) a
reputed maritime think-thank in Japan.
In ministerial level, on sideline of ASEAN+3 in Vientiane on November 27
2004, Japan Foreign Minister and Indian External Affair meet and discussed
wide range of issue covering economic relation, United Nation reform,
environmental issue, maritime security and disarmament and non-proliferation
issue.16 Once again, Japan insisted India to sign NPT, India clarified that it had
no intention of signing the NPT. Ahead of Prime Minister meeting, the Foreign
Minister talk remains crucial to refine the context of the bilateral relation. On 29th
November, Prime Minister Koizumi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
discussed the course of bilateral relation, including various regional and global
issues. In that meeting Prime Minister Koizumi appreciates, Indian Prime
Minister’s Vision on “arc of advantage,” across which there would be large-scale
movement of people, capital, ideas, and creativity.17
The idea of “Arc of Advantage” is well received by the Japanese. In fact,
speaking ahead of official visit to India, Prime Minister Koizumi said “Japan and
India are sharing strategic interests in realizing what Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh calls an “arc of prosperity” in Asia as well as in dealing with such
international issues as terrorism, the environment, energy and U.N. reform,”18

15 India’s Minister of External Affair Annual Report 2003-2004.
16 Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Summary), MOFA, 27 November 2004,
17 PM’s Address at Third India-ASEAN Business Summit, 19 October 2004,
18 Japan, India share strategic agenda, claims Koizumi, Japan Times, 30 April 2005, JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
The shared vision carried by the two Prime Ministers helped to realize the full
potential of their global partnership for peace and prosperity. The highlight of the
talk was indubitably to reinforce the Japan-India Global Partnership, which was
agreed between former prime mister Mori and Vajpayee in 2000. Further, to
enhance the partnership in bilateral, regional and global level. Two Prime
Ministers issued Joint statement and an “Eight-fold Initiative,” which comprised
measure for cooperation in eight key areas of interaction:19
1) enhanced dialogue and exchange
2) comprehensive economic engagement
3) enhanced security dialogue and cooperation
4) science and technology initiative
5) cultural and academic initiatives and strengthening of
people-to-people contacts
6) Cooperation in ushering a new Asian era.
7) Cooperation in U.N and other international organization.
8) Responding to International Challenges.
Many of the issues incorporated in the “Eight-fold Imitative” were already
mentioned in the 2001- Joint Declaration. However, this was the first time,
cooperation in maritime field between two countries received acknowledgement
from highest level. The two leaders recognized the importance of safety and
security of international maritime traffic, directed:
“both countries to work together on a sustained basis,
including the annual Japan Coast Guard-Indian Coast
Guard talks, joint exercises against piracy as well as
cooperation through means of information sharing and
technical assistance. The Japan Coast Guard and the
Indian Coast Guard will commence efforts to establish a
framework of effective cooperation. The two leaders, in view

19 See, “Joint Statement on Japan-India Partnership in a New Asian Era: Strategic
Orientation of Japan-India Global Partnership,” MOFA. JMSDF Staff College Review Volume 2 English version (Selected)
of the importance of maritime security, also instructed the
Maritime Self Defence Force of Japan and the Indian Navy
to enhance their cooperation, including through exchange of
views, friendship visits and other similar activities.”20
From this Joint statement, both the countries ensured that the exchanges
and dialogue in the security and defence field will further help to cement
cooperation in maritime field. Most importantly, holding annual Prime Minister
level meeting and launch of high level strategic dialogue between National
Security Advisor and Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister reflects the need for
long term political, economic and strategic interests. The Joint Statement further
reflects, the “urgency” from both the sides to expand the level of cooperation to
catch the missed opportunities. Analysts view the “political synergy of
Indo-Japanese cooperation is essential not just to further bilateral relations, but
for the greater cause of a more secure Asia-Pacific region.” 21 The threat
perception of two countries regarding to piracy and maritime terrorism are
identical. The crucial choke points such as Hormuz Straits, Gulf of Aden and
Straits of Malacca would be equally a concern to both India and Japan. Moreover,
Japan’s strategic opening with India will withhold its political grip over Indian
Ocean and South Asia, which Japan tried to achieve through ODA and financial
assistance for decades. Further, the transformational visit of Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh to Japan in December 2006 has led the relation to ink Strategic

Global and Strategic Partnership-2006

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