apan has pitched for stronger maritime security cooperation with India, to counter an increasingly powerful China.
During his visit in India on Saturday Japan's foreign minister Fumio Kishida said
that both nations should "proactively" assume responsibilities to ensure "open and stable seas" in the region. His comments are seen as an effort to contain China's growing assertiveness in South China
Kishida said India and Japan have huge interests in the region extending from the Indian Ocean through the South China Sea to the Pacific and both the countries should work jointly under their "special partnership" to ensure maritime security.
Under the bridge of open and stable seas, Kishida said India and Japan were maritime countries whose "interests depends on the safety of sea lanes". He said: "Japan and India have been increasing cooperation in the field of maritime security... It is important to further strengthen our cooperation."
In an address at the Indian Council of World Affairs here, Kishida took a subtle dig at China on the South China Sea dispute
. He recalled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal of "three principles of the rule of law at sea" including not using "force or coercion" in trying to drive claims.
As part of boosting maritime cooperation, he said both sides should boost defense equipment cooperation, including the US-2 amphibian aircraft and Japan's continued participation in the India-US Malabar exercises.
Both India and Japan have signaled a keenness to beef up their defense ties in recent months to counter an increasingly assertive China.
Japanese diplomatic sources said Japan wanted India to play a central role in the Indo-Pacific region while referring to increasing activities by China in the seas and airspace around Japan, including alleged intrusion into its territorial waters, particularly in Senkaku Islands.