Abe bats for India-Japan-US cooperation

New Delhi: Favouring greater interaction between Indian and Japanese navies, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday said the two sides should work closely with the US to secure the sea lanes of commerce and ensure a stable Asia.

The Japanese leader said that with its plans of having a three aircraft carrier Navy, India can keep the Asian sea lines stable and such a step can assure Vietnamese, Americans, South Koreans "if not the Chinese".

Abe said that the Americans have been providing "safety and stability" to sea lanes of commerce since the 1950s but expressed concerns over the fact that the "hegemon may get skinny and its muscle weaker".

"I shall put it that way that let 'Popeye' eat spinach for a while. In the meantime, let us India and Japan work together with the Americans, so that there will be no strategic void," he said, while addressing a gathering at the Sapru House.

Abe was speaking on the topic 'Two democracies meet at sea: For a better and safer Asia'.

Abe said if India and Japan worked "hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, the Indonesians will join us, not to mention all other freedom loving nations.

"Let us work even more closely together with the US, Australia and other maritime democracies to invest in building a robust, open, liberal and safe and stable East Asia Summit-led Asia," he said.

Pointing out that China will remain both an "opportunity and a risk" for a long time to come, he said the US is destined to become weaker in relative terms.

"But let us not be confused and jump into the wrong bandwagon and choose a wrong partner. In America, we see the oldest democracy. In China, we see an autocracy, both the oldest and newest in the making as it is still in the making," the former prime minister said.