India and Japan on Thursday agreed to conduct the inaugural ‘fighter exercise’ between the Air Forces of both the countries during bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart Yasukazu Hamada in Tokyo on Thursday.

Defence Minister is in Tokyo for the second 2+2 Ministerial meeting between India and Japan. According to an official statement issued by the Defence Ministry, both countries acknowledged the importance of the India-Japan defence partnership and the critical role, it will play in ensuring a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.

During the delegation-level talks in Tokyo, Rajnath Singh highlighted the growing complexities in the India-Japan bilateral defence exercises as a testimony to the deepening of defence cooperation between the two countries and the need to expand the scope of partnership in Defence Equipment and Technological Cooperation.

The Ministers expressed their commitment to continuing bilateral and multilateral exercises including ‘Dharma Guardian’, ‘JIMEX’ and ‘Malabar’. They welcomed the operationalisation of the Reciprocal Provision of Supply and Services Agreement during Exercise ‘MILAN’ in March this year, the statement read.

“The two Ministers agreed that the early conduct of the inaugural fighter exercise will pave way for much greater cooperation and interoperability between the Air Forces of the two countries,” the official statement said.

Rajnath also emphasised the need to expand the scope of partnership in the field of Defence Equipment and Technological Cooperation.

He invited Japanese industries to invest in India’s defence corridors where the Government of India has created a conducive environment for growth of the defence industry.

This year marks 70 years of diplomatic relations between India and Japan. As two robust democracies, the two countries are pursuing a Special Strategic and Global Partnership.

Rajnath Singh reached Tokyo on September 7. He began his day’s engagements by laying a wreath at a Memorial, dedicated to the personnel of Japan Self Defense Forces who laid down their lives in the line of duty, at the Ministry of Defense, Japan.

He was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour before the bilateral meeting with the Japanese Defense Minister.

Later in the day, Rajnath, along with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, will participate in the 2nd India-Japan 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. The Japanese side is represented by Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi. The 2+2 Dialogue will review bilateral cooperation across domains and chart out the way forward.