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During the recent G20 Summit held in India, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the importance of deepening cooperation between Japan and India, particularly in the realm of defence. This call for stronger collaboration comes at a time when both nations have escalated their Military-to-Military engagements. Japan, known for its advanced weaponry and defence capabilities, has expressed its willingness to engage in direct government-to-government arms deals with India, signalling a potential shift in its export policies.

Japan’s approach to arms exports has changed in recent years, marked by a desire to expand its reach to countries like India. Previously, due to domestic policies and concerns, Japan was cautious about exporting domestically developed weapons systems. One notable example was the shelved deal involving the ShinMaywa US-2, a large Japanese short takeoff and landing amphibious aircraft, which the Indian Navy had considered purchasing. The cancellation of this deal was attributed to overall cost concerns and limited platform requirements.

Japan has shown a preference for direct government-to-government arms deals with India, as opposed to participating in open tenders for Indian military requirements. This shift in approach is motivated by a desire to streamline the procurement process, which often becomes protracted and entangled in bureaucratic procedures when conducted through traditional tendering.

The first official sale of military equipment between Japan and India may materialize with the export of the “Unicorn” antenna system. This advanced system, designed to reduce the reflection of enemy radio waves, consolidates multiple antennas into a distinctive horn-shaped structure. In previous Japanese destroyers, each antenna was exposed on the mast. This innovative technology has been installed on the Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer “FFM,” commissioned in 2022.

Japan and India have reached an agreement to cooperate on the transfer of the Unicorn system. This collaborative effort was solidified during the “two-plus-two” meeting held in Tokyo in September last year, where foreign and defence ministers from both nations convened to discuss various aspects of their partnership.

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