In their annual summit on September 9, India and Japan inked a landmark agreement that will allow their militaries to access each other’s bases for logistics support at a time when Chinese military is flexing its muscle in the Indo-Pacific region.
On 9 September, India and Japan in their annual summit inked mutual logistics support arrangement (MLSA).
The mutual logistics support arrangement (MLSA) was signed by defence secretary Ajay Kumar and the Japanese ambassador to India Suzuki Satoshi, a defence ministry spokesperson said.
Japanese ambassador Satoshi also tweeted “Great pleasure to sign the agreement concerning reciprocal provision of supplies and services between #JSDF and the #IndianArmedForces. Hope the agreement will further promote cooperation between them. #JapanIndia.”
The MLSA agreement provides for creation of an enabling framework for closer cooperation and interoperability, besides allowing militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases and facilities for repair and replenishment of supplies.
According to a statement issued by the Japanese government, “With regard to the significant enhancement of Japan-India relations in recent years, Prime Minister Abe stated that both Prime Ministers took actions towards realizing the vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between Japan and India was elevated to greater heights.”
“In this context, both Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of India Concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces (so-called “Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement”, or ACSA) on September 9,” it said.
The MLSA is also known as the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). This Agreement is inked for a period of ten years and expected to automatically be extended for successive periods of ten years each.
The signing of the agreement comes at a time India is locked in a bitter border row with China, and rising concerns among countries in the region over increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
A statement by Japanese foreign ministry said the agreement will promote closer cooperation between the militaries of the two countries, and enable them to actively contribute to international peace and security.
“It is expected that the agreement will facilitate the smooth and prompt provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces,” it said.
The defence ministry said the pact will enhance the interoperability between the armed forces, resulting in further expansion of bilateral defence engagement under the Indo-Japan special strategic and global partnership.
“The agreement establishes the enabling framework for closer cooperation between the armed forces of India and Japan in reciprocal provision of supplies and services,” it said.
India has already signed similar agreements with the US, France and Singapore.
India has been signing MLSAs with countries primarily eyeing deeper maritime cooperation which is important considering China’s rapid military expansionism in the Indo-Pacific, Indian Ocean and South China Sea.
India is also expanding overall strategic cooperation with Japan in the Indo-Pacific region under the framework of four nation coalition ‘Quad’.
In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
The US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region.