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Kovid Kumar asked: How much Japan’s national interest affects the Indian Ocean?

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  • Rajaram Panda replies: Peace and tranquillity at sea is of utmost importance for Japan as it is a maritime nation. Maritime security, therefore, is intrinsically connected with Japan’s economic lifeline. Any disruption in the maritime traffic will drastically affect Japan’s economy. Being a resource deficient country, no other country in the East Asian region is more dependent than Japan on maritime transport for sourcing critical raw materials and exporting manufactured goods. In particular, the Strait of Malacca is the main passage between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and therefore a vital lifeline for Japan’s international trade. As much as 33 per cent of international trade and 50 per cent of the world’s oil pass through the Strait of Malacca and the Strait of Hormuz. Also 90 per cent of Japan’s oil requirements come from the Persian Gulf. Because of Constitutional limitations, Japan’s naval role to tackle issues of piracy and maritime terrorism and securing the SLOC is limited. Japan, therefore, sees India as a strategic asset for naval cooperation. Multilateral naval exercises are also important for Japan. Seen from this perspective, Indian Ocean in Japan’s national interests is hugely important.