New Delhi: Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba is on a five-day visit to Japan during which he will explore new avenues of cooperation with the country which has emerged as a close partner of India in recent years, both on the nuclear energy front as well as military.
The visit also comes at a time when India, Japan and the US are preparing for their next edition of the Malabar exercise which will focus on submarine hunting amid increasing forays by the Chinese underwater vessels in the Indian Ocean.
"The visit aims to consolidate existing maritime cooperation initiatives as well as explore new avenues," a statement by the Navy said.
India and Japan share similar maritime challenges such as long coastline, extensive Exclusive Economic Zone, coastal security, large coastal shipping and fishing fleet, wherein both navies have opportunities to learn from each other's experiences, it added.
In addition, common ground exists for cooperation on a number of issues for the navies.
Defence cooperation between India and Japan is robust and is primarily focused towards maritime cooperation.
Bilateral defence cooperation was institutionalised with commencement of the India-Japan Comprehensive Security Dialogue which was initiated in 2001.
Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) has participated in the Malabar exercise in 2007, 2009, 2014 prior being included as a regular member in the exercise since 2015.
JMSDF participated in Malabar 15 and 16 held in the Bay of Bengal and Western Pacific respectively.
In 2014, Japan has also been included as an observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a maritime cooperation construct conceptualised and pioneered by Indian Navy in 2008.
Both navies also engage in navy to navy staff talks which commenced in 2008. The 7th such talks are scheduled to be held in 2017.
JDS Matsuyuki participated in the International Fleet Review 2016 held at Visakhapatnam.
The Chief of Staff of the JMSDF, Admiral Tomihisa Takei also attended the Review.
Indian Navy too participated in the International Fleet Review conducted by the JMSDF in October 15 at Sagami Bay, Yokosuka, Japan.
JMSDF for the first time participated in the Admiral's Cup Sailing Regatta conducted by the Indian Navy in 2016 at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala from December 5 to 11 this year.
Warships of both countries regularly visit each other's ports.
During the visit, Admiral Lanba is scheduled to hold discussions with Chief of Staff, JMSDF, Minister of State for Defence, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff besides other senior dignitaries and naval officers.