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India and Japan are planning to hold a ‘2+2′ format meeting of foreign and defence ministers in Tokyo later this month, Japanese media reported.

According to NHK, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and Defence Minister Kishi Nobuo are due to attend the meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

This will the second such meeting between the two countries as the inaugural meeting of the India-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue (2+2) was held on November 30, 2019, in New Delhi.

According to Asia Nikkei, this comes as China ramps up its activities in the disputed East and South China Seas. Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide is also making arrangements to visit India.

The ministers are expected to discuss ways to cooperate more closely on defence. Japan and India signed an agreement last year to allow the Self-Defence Forces and the Indian military to provide each other with food and fuel.

The NHK, in a report, said that the Japanese government is increasingly looking to India as an ally that shares basic values and can help work toward a free and open Indo-Pacific as China continues to assert itself across the region. Both India and Japan time and again have asserted that they are committed to efforts to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Last month, the leaders of the Quad alliance — India, the US, Japan and Australia had underscored the importance of a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region during the group’s first-ever leaders’ summit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Quad has now come of age and will serve as an important pillar in ensuring the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific region features several territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas which involve Brunei, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Beijing claims most of the region.

Other issues to be discussed by the Japanese and Indian ministers will likely include joint efforts toward strengthening supply chains in the Asian region, Japan Times reported quoting a Japanese government source.

In October last year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had visited Tokyo to take part in the second India-Australia-Japan-USA Ministerial Meeting. The grouping of India Australia, Japan and the US is also known as ‘Quad’.
Last year in September, the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force jointly held the fourth edition of India-Japan maritime bilateral exercise JIMEX in the North Arabian Sea.

JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation. (ANI)