Japan, India begin anti-terror military drills in Shiga

Tokyo, Feb 17 (EFE).- Japanese and Indian armed forces Friday began counter-terrorism military exercises west of the archipelago as the two countries reinforce their defense capabilities amid deepening Chinese influence in the region.

The fourth edition of the annual “Dharma Guardian” kicked off at Camp Aibano in the Shiga province of Japan and will continue through Feb.17.

Some 230 soldiers from the two countries are participating in the drills that involve simulation on battling terrorism, the Japanese military said.

The annual military games are taking place in Japanese territory for the first time since the two countries began the drills in 2018.

The 2020 edition was suspended due to the pandemic.

The Indian army shared on its social networks photos and videos of the arrival of its troops in Japan on Thursday.

“Dharma Guardian…is crucial and significant in terms of security challenges faced by both nations in the backdrop of current global situation,” the Indian defense ministry said in a statement.

“The scope of this exercise covers platoon level joint training on operations in jungle and semi urban, urban terrain.”

The Indian army contingent arrived at the exercise location on Feb.12 to a warm reception from their Japanese counterparts.

“The joint exercise will enable the two armies to share best practices in tactics, techniques and procedures of conducting tactical operations under a UN Mandate, in addition to developing inter-operability, bonhomie, camaraderie and friendship between the two armies,” the Indian ministry said.

The ministry said the joint exercise would facilitate both armies to “know each other better, share their wide experiences, and enhance their situational awareness.”

“(The exercise) will further enhance the level of defense cooperation between the Indian Army and Japanese Ground Self Defence Forces, furthering the bilateral relations between the two nations.”

Japan and India have been boosting their defense capabilities in the face of the Chinese military rise.

Both India and Japan have territorial disputes with China.

Tokyo and Beijing are in dispute over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands (governed by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu).

Military tension between Delhi and Beijing escalated after armies clashed in June 2020 in a Himalayan border area, causing both sides casualties in the first deadly boundary skirmish since 1975.

The strengthening of defense ties between Japan and India comes amid increasing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

The two countries held their first joint air exercises near Tokyo last month. Their maritime forces have held recurring drills since 2012.

Japan and India are also part of the so-called Quad group, including Australia and the United States.

The group is a multilateral defense framework that seeks to counterbalance the growing Chinese regional influence.

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