Japan's defense minister to pitch US-2 amphibious aircraft to India

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera is making preparations to visit India from Oct. 8 to advance diplomatic talks to export Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft, ministry officials said Saturday.

Onodera plans to meet with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony, with the aim of strengthening cooperation in maritime security matters with India, which has territorial issues with China.

Japan is also at odds with China over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which China calls the Diaoyu.

During talks in May in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh agreed to set up a working group to study the possible export of US-2 amphibious aircraft used by Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The two leaders also decided to conduct joint drills of the MSDF and the Indian Navy on a regular basis.

Onodera is expected to promote the usability of the US-2 for the Indian military, which is also apparently considering buying sea rescue aircraft from other countries such as Russia and Canada.

Onodera is also expected to confirm cooperation with India in dealing with pirates and to visit an Indian Navy facility.