CHENNAI, INDIA – The Japanese and Indian coastguards conducted a joint exercise in waters off Chennai, southern India, on Thursday.
The 18th such exercise between the two nations takes place at a time when China is expanding its maritime presence in waters near India.
Japan and India share the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” to ensure freedom of navigation and justice and intend to demonstrate their close relationship through the exercise to keep China at bay.
The exercise includes Japan’s Echigo patrol ship and five Indian ships, including the Shaurya patrol boat, and helicopters from both countries.
Members of the coast guard trained in dealing with fires and attempted occupation of a ship by pirates.
Commandant Takahiro Okushima of the Japanese Coast Guard and Director General Krishnaswamy Natarajan of the Indian Coast Guard will inspect the joint exercise. The two bosses met in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The exercise was designed to improve the two nations’ ability to deal with pirates and carry out law enforcement activities, such as on-site ship inspections, said a Japanese Coast Guard official.
Echigo left a port in Niigata Prefecture on December 26 last year and patrolled pirates before training on the high seas.
The ship will visit Malaysia before returning to Niigata in February.