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Event Report of Interaction between Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and Center for Air and Space Power Strategic Studies (CASPSS), Tokyo

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  • September 14, 2022

    On 14 September 2022, a delegation led by Colonel Kimitoshi Sugiyama, Director, CASPSS, Tokyo, visited MP-IDSA and interacted with the scholars from East Asia and Strategic Technologies Centre on security and strategic issues in the Indo-Pacific. Deputy Director General, Maj.Gen.(Dr.) Bipin Bakshi led the discussions from the Indian side.

    Executive Summary

     In view of the growing geostrategic complexities and challenges in the Indo-Pacific region the scholars from MP-IDSA and CASPSS exchanged views on a range of issues including the security environment around Japan, China’s increasing military capability and aggressive stance towards Taiwan and prospects of cooperation between the two countries in space and cyber domains.

    Detailed Report

    Before the commencement of the session Dr. Titli Basu, Associate Fellow, East Asia Centre introduced the speakers from both sides and offered a brief overview of the current geopolitical situation in the Indo-Pacific and the importance of India-Japan engagement in that backdrop.

    Maj.Gen.(Dr.) Bipin Bakshi began the session by delivering the introductory remarks. He expressed his views on India-Japan engagement and India’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Referring to late Mr. Shinzo Abe’s address to the Indian Parliament on the “Confluence of the Two Seas” in 2007 he highlighted that the concept was first propounded by a Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in a book named Majma-ul-Bahrain. He emphasised that in view of the increasing trade and commerce across countries, the Indian and the Pacific oceans cannot be considered different. Talking briefly about India-Japan engagement in the Quad he observed that India and Japan share deep historical linkages and common political values. Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bakshi highlighted India’s commitment towards building a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific, maintaining rule of law and freedom of navigation. He reminded the Japanese delegation that 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of India-Japan diplomatic relations and informed that India seeks to increase its engagement with Japan.

    Following Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bakshi’s comments, Col. Sugiyama made a brief presentation on the objectives, functioning and research areas of CASPSS.

    Gp. Capt. (Dr.) Ajey Lele, Consultant, MP-IDSA shared his views about the possibility of India-Japan collaboration on space power technology. He spoke on the commonalities in the Indian and Japanese space programmes and noted that while the time period of both countries’ space programmes was different, their trajectory was similar. Commenting about the Indian space programme, he informed that the project was undertaken to cater to solely civilian needs and then progressed to development for military purposes. Dr. Lele also discussed briefly about how India invested resources in development of satellite technology for socio-economic development and education dissemination in rural areas. He listed some of the ways in which satellite technology is being used in India, including telemedicine, connecting rural areas by satellite and addressing climate and weather concerns. Referring to military use of satellite technology he highlighted that India has made significant investments in remote sensing technology. He concluded by observing that India and Japan can cooperate to develop satellite technology in the fields of disaster management, space traffic management and maritime domain awareness.

    Col. Sugiyama responded by stating that Japan is relatively a newcomer in space power. For a long period of time Japan declined to use space for military purposes as Japanese legal structure allowed only civilian use. However, since 2008 Japan has changed its stance and has just started to use space power for defence purposes. To that end Japan has created a new course for space situational awareness. Also, Japan is willing to learn from India because of its knowledge, skills and technology. Further, Japan wants to collaborate with India to create international norms in space. 

    Thereafter, Col. Sugiyama continued and made a presentation on “Security Environment Surrounding Japan.” He noted that the Indo-Pacific region is facing many challenges including attempts to change status quo by force and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He emphasised China’s increasing military capability as another significant threat to Japan and the Indo-Pacific region.

    Over the course of his presentation, Col. Sugiyama highlighted how China is constantly modernising its Eastern Theatre Command that faces Japan and that in a few years’ time the People’s Liberation Army Navy will gain capabilities to conduct military operations beyond the first and the second island chain. Also, it will be able to deter third-party intervention in South China Sea. Drawing attention to China’s recent military operations and missile deployments he contended that Chinese proficiency in carrier fleet and carrier-based operations is increasing rapidly. He underscored that in the past few years China has significantly increased military pressure on Taiwan by air incursions into the latter’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ). This constitutes a grave threat not only to Japan but also to the stability of the Indo-Pacific.

    Later, Col. Sugiyama talked about increasing military cooperation between Russia and China and Russian Air Force’s increased activity in and around the Sea of Okhotsk. He contended that in the Far East, Russia is following a ‘Bastion Strategy’. He concluded his presentation by briefly touching upon the increasing missile threat from North Korea and that Japan is carefully following events.

    An interactive session followed after Col. Sugiyama’s presentation.

    Mr. Samuel Cherian, Research Fellow, Strategic Technologies Centre talked about Indo-Japanese collaboration with respect to cybersecurity and means for R&D transfer. He referred to the possibility of India-Japan cooperation in the area of semiconductors and how the two countries can collaborate in the dialogues that are underway in this field at the international level. He also emphasised the need for India and Japan to move past dialogues and focus towards implementation. Referring to robust US-Japan cooperation in the cyber sector, he asked how Indo-Japan relations in the cyber domain could reach a similar state.

    Col. Sujiyama replied that Japan names cyber and space domains as new domains of warfare. He stated that Tokyo has a very defensive policy and that their focus is on protection, in terms of facilities or equipment. He remarked that in view of present requirements, Japan will have to build more of its cyber power capability and that Japan will be very pleased to learn from India’s capabilities, skills and experiences in the cybersphere.

    Dr. M.S. Pratibha, Associate Fellow, East Asia Centre noted that the security structure and norms which emerged post-second world war appear to be unravelling over the past few decades. This development is viewed differently by different countries. Commenting on China’s increasing military power, she observed that for the United States (US), China’s missile power is creating an obstacle to Washington’s primacy in the region. She further noted that with the changes in international order and norms, it is evident that China will confront US supremacy and norms in the region. This confrontation, she added, will create several choices for India and Japan.

    Dr. Prashant Kumar Singh, Associate Fellow, East Asia Centre, questioned the Japanese delegation about their take on Chinese military exercises after the US House of Representative (HoR) Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit and effectiveness of the Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative to check Chinese naval activities. Col. Sugiyama replied that China’s provocative military exercises after Speaker Pelosi’s visit were unexpected, however, China is likely to uphold its aggressive stance in the region for longer under the excuse of military exercises instead of declaring war. About the second question, he opined that the initiative is very important and will be effective in increasing awareness about and detection of Chinese naval activities in the region.

    Dr. Titli Basu, Associate Fellow, East Asia Centre, referring to the domestic debates on increasing Japan’s military capability queried whether Japan will follow deterrence by denial or deterrence by punishment. Also, on the issue of revamping the military budget she asked that given Japan’s present fiscal situation, from where will Tokyo draw resources to meet the two percent target. Col. Sugiyama responded by stating that it will be difficult for Japan to increase its defence budget in a short period of time and that Japan might have to accept budget deficit. Second, in terms of Japan’s strategic posture, Tokyo will follow deterrence by denial.

    Ms. Mayuri Banerjee, Research Analyst, East Asia Centre queried about Japan’s approach towards North Korea’s nuclearisation programme, especially when North Korea has passed a new law barring denuclearisation talks. Col. Sugiyama opined that it will be very difficult to reverse North Korea’s nuclear programme as it is the only bargaining chip Pyongyang has. However, the international community will have to keep open the channel of dialogue and discussions with North Korea.

    Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bakshi highlighted that North Korea’s increasing missile power along with Russia’s support to China’s military operation have added to the geostrategic complexity in the region. Referring to China’s exercise around Taiwan he opined that the international community’s weak response to it could further empower China to undertake a bigger military operation in the future.

    Lt. Col. Niwa Masashi raised a question about India’s response to Uri and Pulwama attacks and the Galwan Valley crisis. He also queried that whether India will contemplate using similar kind of force towards China in the border dispute as was adopted towards Pakistan.

    Responding to this question Gp. Capt. (Dr.) Lele noted that finding a red line is not going to be a strategic issue, but a tactical issue. As a major power, India has substantial interest in an amicable and peaceful resolution of the territorial dispute and India will not resort to using force on the disputed border in the first instance.

    Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bakshi, drawing a distinction between Galwan border clashes and the Uri and Pulwama attacks contended that a similar strategy cannot be applied to both the situations. He further noted that India’s broad policy is to deter China and constrain Pakistan’s proxy war.

    The session ended with exchange of souvenirs between the two sides.

    This report has been prepared by Ms. Mayuri Banerjee, Research Analyst, East Asia Centre & Ms.Esha Banerji and Ms.Vanrika Satyan, Interns, East Asia Centre.