The Indian and Japanese armies will hold joint military exercises in the troubled northeastern Indian state of Mizoram today with a focus on strengthening counterterrorism cooperation.
The first ever land-based military exercises conducted between the two countries come four days after bilateral talks between prime ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. There, they agreed to an annual 2+2 dialogue with the defence and foreign ministers of both countries.
The Northeast is economically underdeveloped and politically tense. Insurgent groups have a history of terrorist attacks in the region, while China claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh, further north of Mizoram, as Southern Tibet.
Japan has ramped up funding commitments in the region in recent years with a $6 billion planned spend. This includes a $300 million loan for upgrading the highway network. In return, Japanese companies obtain opportunities for investment. All of this China has vociferously opposed.
The counterterrorism nature of the joint military exercises is clearly aimed at the insurgent groups in the region, as they pose a threat to future infrastructure projects. However, Japanese military participation against insurgents in future would likely be highly circumscribed. Regardless, expect Chinese unease that the Japanese presence in the region now has a military element to it.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.