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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 07:21, April 21, 2007
A "goodwill" joint naval drill?
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Japan, the United States and India conducted their first ever joint naval drill off Japan's eastern coast on Monday. It is absolutely not new for Japan and the U.S. to sit down and plot conspiracies together but it is rather intriguing to get India involved.

It is said that the joint naval exercise was held to carry out rescue operations in case of tsunami and other regional catastrophes, apart from consultations held among crew members on the naval vessel-related skills and techniques.

hough the drills were described by a Japanese official as a "goodwill" one and cited by the US 7th fleet as one designed especially for exchanges and coordination among the involved parties, the Japanese TBS Television, however, said India had begun modernizing the equipment of its navy in the wake of the nation's rapid economic growth, and the naval drill were also designed to contain the rapidly modernizing Chinese navy.

The "Nikkei" of Japan also noted that the naval exercise was to help check the Chinese navy, whose country has had increased military spending for 19 consecutive years.

Japan was the most vital, important military ally of Washington in Asia, while the U.S. has 50,000 servicemen stationed in Japan along with 18 warships of its 7th fleet. According to an AFP report, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had repeatedly appealed for establishing a strategic dialogue mechanism among Japan, the U.S., India and Australia, a proposal described by media as having a self-evident objective.

Meanwhile, the United Press International (UPI) said the joint military exercise was focused on China with a purpose of encircling it militarily, and this constitutes a concrete move to enhance the Japan-India-Australia-US military alliance.

India has so far not yet clarified its intention to partake in the joint naval drills, and it is also scheduled to have joint exercises with China, Russia and Vietnam, its Defense Ministry noted.

For decades, India, which pursues a non-aligned foreign policy, has maintained a certain distance from the US-Japan military alliance, and the US-India ties were particularly cold and estranged after India conducted a nuclear test in 1998.

Only from 2003 on, the naval exchanges of the three nations were on a steady rise. Not long ago, military experts from Japan, the U.S. and India held two rounds of trilateral security conferences, which excluded China, the most populous nation in the region, an Indian weekly said recently.

However, it is up to the stance and role of India that will decide whether the mutual effect of India, Japan and the U.S and the so-called the four-nation alliance will move in compliance with the logic of Japan and the U.S., the weekly acknowledged. Proceeding from its own national interests, India will go on retaining a role of balance instead of hinging solely on the "Japan-US axis."

Some analysts deem that the naval drills have sent out a signal for a new balance of force in the Asia region. As an old-brand power, the U.S. is striving to win the support of Japan and India in a bid to prevent China and Russia from joining forces.

At the time when its navy entered into the Pacific waters, India tried hard to relieve Beijing of any misconceptions about its military action. Hence, India's naval vessels are also set to have joint drills with China. To increase its image of the "non-aligned policy", India will also have joint exercises with Russia.

By People's Daily Online

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