01 April 2017
Facing an uncertain geopolitical climate, Japan and India will benefit from working closely to play a greater leadership role in the region as they share converging strategic and security interests. Given the possibility that the United States may disengage from the Asia-Pacific, both Tokyo and New Delhi are concerned about Beijing’s increasing assertiveness and will seek to increase their collective capabilities to counterbalance China’s otherwise unhindered dominance. Competitive behavior vis-a-vis China is likely to continue in arenas such as the South China Sea, Official Development Assistance (ODA), and infrastructure projects.
Although neither Japan nor India is party to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, they are both committed to upholding freedom of navigation and a rules-based regime, and have vital commercial and strategic stakes that keep their interest alive in the troubled waters. Japan has been increasing its strategic engagement in the contested region by providing capacity building assistance to ASEAN member states, notably Vietnam and the Philippines. Japan is also planning to send its largest warship, the Izumo helicopter carrier, on a three-month tour through the South China Sea, before it joins the Malabar joint naval exercises with India and the United States in the Indian Ocean in July. This signals that Tokyo has the political will and capacity to play a larger maritime role.
Meanwhile, the success of India’s “Act East” policy hinges on connectivity and trade with ASEAN and the far-eastern Pacific. As such, India is seeking to expand its role to ensure a stable regional maritime order. India has become increasingly engaged with states like Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, asserting the Permanent Court of Arbitration judgment in support of Manila’s claims. Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said Manila was “grateful” for India’s support. Indian naval ships have increased their presence in the South China Sea, cooperating with Vietnam on hydrocarbon exploration despite Beijing’s warnings and training Vietnamese submariners in India. Talks are also underway for New Delhi to impart submarine training to Indonesia.
… Tan Ming Hui is an Associate Research Fellow and Nazia Hussain is a Research Analyst in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 03/04/2017