Indian Navy teams up with US and Japan for a joint exercise. (Photo: PTI)
On Board INS Shivalik: Japan's participation in the ongoing trilateral naval exercise- MALABAR-2015- was not targeted at any country, a senior Japanese officer said on Thursday.
Japan's participation "is not targeted at any particular country and the purpose is to create open and free oceans for maritime commerce," Y Murakaawa, Vice Admiral of Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), told reporters on board the ship.
Addressing a joint press meet on board the Indian Naval ship along with senior Indian and US Naval officials, he said Japan would continue collaboration with the navies of India and the US.
Murakawa was responding to reported criticism in the Chinese official media in recent months about Japan's participation in the Malabar exercise for the fourth time.
An article in the official Global Times took umbrage over India's move to include Japan in the exercises saying that India-Japan defence cooperation was "dangerous for Asia". Murakawa pointed out that his Indian counterparts had favoured continued participation by the Japanese Navy.
Earlier, Vice Admiral B K Varma of Indian Navy said the exercise will be helpful in understanding the inter-operability between the three navies and learn from each other.
The Malabar exercises have been held by India and the US since 1992.
This year's exercises assumed significance over India's move to invite Japan, much to the chagrin of China, which views Japan as a strategic rival in the Asia Pacific region.
China had on October 12 said it was not "that fragile" to be affected by the trilateral drills, reacting sharply to Japan joining the exercises being held by the Indian and US navies in the Bay of Bengal.