New Delhi: Japan wants to be a part of the naval exercise that India and the US hold every year to make it trilateral, six years after it was kept out of it apparently because of Chinese objections.
Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera made it clear that the proposed trilateral Malabar-series exercise was not aimed against any specific country and was important for the security of sea lanes in the region.
"During the meeting with defence minister A K Antony, I asked for the participation of the Japanese maritime self defence forces in the naval wargames," he said in a recent interview in New Delhi.
Onodera was asked whether his country was interested in taking part in the wargames held between India and the US.
"This is not targeting a specific country. This is an exercise between three friendly countries to participate for security of sea lanes, this is an important exercise," he said.
Malabar-series exercises are held between India and the US but in 2007, Japan and Australia had also taken part in it outside the Indian Ocean near the coast of Okinawa in Japan.
China was apparently not happy over the event and is understood to have sought explanation from the participant countries about it.
After the objections, India decided against making the wargames multilateral and since then, it has been kept as a bilateral affair between it and the US Navy.
It is understood that the US, which is a close ally of Japan, does not have any objections over Tokyo's participation in the war games and the two countries are awaiting approval from the Indian side on the issue.
The annual Malabar series exercises began in 1992, and include diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers and nuclear submarine operations.
The 2007 edition was the only time that the exercise had taken place outside India Ocean, Bay of Bengal or Arabian Sea.