New Delhi: Defence ties between India and Japan are set to grow stronger with both coming together for Malabar naval exercises in October and exploring possibility of having joint air exercises.
Japanese defence sources expressed satisfaction at the growth trajectory in the defence ties saying, "the direction is right. We need to work on it more".
"Japan is happy to be invited for the Indo-US naval exercise 'Malabar' slated for October in the Bay of Bengal," the sources told PTI, adding that the next step hopefully will be joint air exercise.
It is not just the cooperation at the level of forces that both countries are looking at. "There is a huge opportunity present in the defence manufacturing too especially in the context of Make in India," Indian defence sources said.
The importance that Japan puts on defence ties with India can be seen from the fact that the Japanese Embassy has added two more defence attaches here - one each from the Air Force and Coast Guard -- this year.
"At present, there are only four countries other than India to which Japan sends its attaches from the three services and the Coast Guard. This shows how much importance we attach to the defence and maritime cooperation between Japan and India," Japanese Ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi said.
Amid increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, Japan had in March during the visit of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar sought enhanced cooperation with India in defence and security sector including in the field of maritime security.
Japan has been witnessing conflict with China over control of private islands in South China Sea. A territorial dispute even exists between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands, which Beijing refers to as the Diaoyu Islands.
India considers relations with Japan very important, which is evident from the fact that Parrikar chose Japan as the first country to visit after assuming office of Defence Minister.