Cooperative Maritime Endeavours Should Foster South Asian Regional Cooperation

October 31, 2012

New Delhi: India and Japan are natural partners in the new Asian architecture, stated Union Minister for Law and Justice, Dr Ashwini Kumar, adding Japan is an important player in India’s Look East Policy. Dr Kumar was speaking at the two day international seminar on ‘Maritime Dimensions of Power Game in Asia’ organised by the Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) Japan, Society for Indian Ocean Studies, National Maritime Foundation and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), from October 31-Nov 1, 2012.

Reflecting on the transformation of India-Japan relations in the last decade, Dr Kumar said that India and Japan today have more confluence and convergence of interests and can play a crucial role in global affairs.

In his keynote address the former Indian Navy chief and member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), Admiral (Retd.) Arun Prakash, said that the time was ripe for countries like India, Japan and China and others to establish multilateral dialogues to mitigate mutual suspicion to slow down the pace of naval arms race. The basic question to be debated among the Asian actors is whether conflict is inevitable or whether cooperation is possible among the Asian powers, he said.

He insisted that the maritime domain provides a fertile ground for many cooperative endeavours, like a multi-national Asian task force for anti piracy or a regional framework for the prevention of incidents at sea etc, can act as a catalyst for regional peace and security.

Insisting that the term “Asia Pacific” in current use tends to focus only on the Western Pacific, Admiral Prakash, advocated the need to create a stronger Pan Asian linkage between countries such as Japan and India that lie on either side of Malacca Strait, hence an increased use of the term “Indo-Pacific”.

Vice Admiral Premvir Das, in his special speech pointed out at the commonalities between India and Japan and stressed that the Indian and Japanese economic engagement, as well as strategic understanding is bound to grow in the future.

Also speaking at the seminar was Vice Admiral (Retd.) Mihir Roy, who stressed upon the importance and timing of the seminar, which coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of India-Japan diplomatic relations.

Prof. Masahiro Akiyama of OPRF while reflecting on the changing geopolitics in maritime Asia noted that the convergence of interests of India and Japan sets the stage for the two countries to play a greater role in Indo-Pacific region.

Earlier, welcoming the guests, Director General, IDSA, Dr. Arvind Gupta, said that the military balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region was changing and protecting the maritime freedom was a common and important interest of India and Japan.

The seminar concludes on November 1, 2012 .