India, Japan Announce Signing of Military Logistics Pact a Week Before Shinzo Abe's Exit

Abe had, last month, announced his intention to step down due to ill-health after eight years as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

New Delhi: A week before Shinzo Abe leaves office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of shared memories with his “dear friend” and announced the signing of the long-expected military logistic agreement.

Abe had, last month, announced his intention to step down due to ill-health after eight years as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. The sudden announcement meant that his pre-scheduled India-Japan annual summit was a low-key affair, with the major takeaway being the signing of the military pact.

The annual summit was originally planned to have been held in Guwahati in December 2019. It was postponed due to fierce street protests that broke out in Assam against the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The official statements from both countries made no mention of India’s ongoing stand-off with China.

Also read: Abe’s Legacy for New Delhi: Enmeshed Strategic Ties and Bringing India Into the Quad

As per the Japanese foreign ministry, the phone call took place at around 11.10 am (IST) and lasted for half an hour.

“At the outset, Prime Minister Abe explained that he would resign from his position as Prime Minister and expressed his gratitude for the friendship and the relationship of trust built with Prime Minister Modi,” said the press note issued by the Japanese foreign ministry.

They also shared “memories from their mutual annual visits”, with Abe referring to his visit to Varanasi and Modi reminiscing about the invitation to the PM’s ancestral village.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Japanese counter part Shinzo Abe at the Ganga bank. Photo: PIB

According to the Indian read-out, the two leaders reviewed the status of joint projects, including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project.

With words re-affirming support for the concept of the ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’, the two leaders also welcomed the new Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), which had been formally signed by officials on September 9.

“This agreement will facilitate the smooth provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces. It will also promote closer cooperation between the forces on the ground, thereby contributing further to global peace and security,” said the Japanese statement.

Similarly, the Indian press release said that the agreement would contribute to “peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region”.

India has, so far, signed military logistics agreements with United States, France, Australia, South Korea and Singapore. With the signing of the pact with Japan, India has a military logistics agreement with all the other ‘Quad’ countries.

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It means that India would be able to access services at Japan’s overseas base at Djibouti, while Japanese naval forces could get similar access to strategic Indian ports.

According to Article 1 of the agreement, the logistics pact would cover reciprocal use of supplies and services for the following activities –

  1. Exercises and training with participation of both the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces,
  2. United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, humanitarian international relief operations, or operations to cope with large scale disasters in the territory of either party or a third country,
  3. Protection measures or transportation of nationals of either party or others, if appropriate, for their evacuation from overseas in case of exigencies of the situation,
  4. Communication and co-ordination or other routine activities (including visits of ships or aircraft of the forces of either party to facilities in the territory of the other party), with the exception of exercises and training conducted unilaterally by the forces of either party,
  5. Any other activity in which the provision of supplies and services is permitted under the laws and regulations of the respective countries.

The “supplies and services” would include base operations support, food, water, transportation, clothing, fuel, clothes, communication, storage services, training, repair and maintenance, airport and seaport services.

The third clause in the agreement’s article 2 explicitly states that this listing of services “shall not be interpreted as to include the provision of weapons or ammunition by the Self-Defense Forces of Japan or the Indian Armed Forces”.

The commencement of the negotiations for ACSA was first made public through the joint statement issued at the last India-Japan summit in October 2018 in Tokyo.