Now, Robotics and AI to get introduced to a new genre. India and Japan would be working together for the introduction of AI and robotics in the defense sector, as the next step of strategic cooperation between these two Asian partners.

To this, Kentaro Sonoura, Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs and a close adviser to PM Shinzo Abe, regarded that, “You should expect to see increased bilateral cooperation between us to develop unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) and robotics”.

This strategic sphere remains where the bulk of India-Japan convergence lies. After the nuclear agreement was ratified by the Japanese parliament late 2017, Sonoura regarded that India and Japan would be setting up a joint task force for commercial agreements by the end of January. With the legislation behind them, the Japanese minister said Tokyo was more keen to get this going. To this, he added that, “The two PMs agreed to launch a working group, which will work on cooperation between nuclear companies. Japan’s intention is to start this quickly, possibly by the end of this month”.

This strategy is especially applicable when an aggressive and expansionist China growing as a challenge to both India and Japan, the two countries are increasingly looking at the world through a similar lens.

For 2018, Japan is aiming for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, i.e. a theme Sonoura has expounded on at the recent Raisina Dialogue. This, he regarded, was a coming together of Japan’s Indo-Pacific policy and India’s Act East policy. Further, he added that “We need to share the importance of rule of law and freedom of navigation among related countries. The next step is infrastructure development based on global standards so that connectivity among countries is increased. The third step would be maritime law enforcement and disaster management that would ensure the stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. Therefore, we would like to connect and combine our Indo-Pacific strategy and India’s Act East policy as one big picture. That’s the synergy we seek.”

Working with India in the quadrilateral schemed grand strategy, Sonoura regarded that the aims were slowly crystallizing. To this, he says that “Among these four countries, we have the same standards in terms of maritime strategy and basic values. So it’s important to realize these values – non-proliferation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. It is important to utilize the strengths of these countries and use it. Rather than frameworks, it is important what we can do – to create concrete results which should be visible to the world”. For India, the key aims of the quadrilateral is to come together on non-proliferation and on freedom of navigation.

Basically, to counter China’s growing influence in India’s neighborhood, India has encouraged the presence of Japan and the US in South Asian countries, actions that might have elicited mild protests earlier. Now, New Delhi was remarkably quiet when Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono recently visited Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, increasing Japanese presence in these countries.

While answering this, Sonoura said that “Foreign minister Kono visited the Maldives for the first time and Sri Lanka for the first time in 15 years. Last year I visited Mauritius, Madagascar, Kenya, and Mozambique. If you place this within the rubric of Japan’s Indo-Pacific strategy, you will get the larger picture”.

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