Islamabad: Pakistan and Japan have agreed to enhance their defence and security cooperation in a rare high-level contact between Pakistan’s Army Chief and Japan’s Defence Minister.
In a videoconference on August 6, General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Defense Minister of Japan, Taro Kono, discussed “matters of mutual interest, military to military ties, defense and security cooperation” according to the Pakistan military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
During the interaction, both sides agreed to resume staff level talks as soon as the COVID-19 situation improves and enhance bilateral defence cooperation, especially in the fields of training, joint exercises and anti-piracy measures. The two countries decided to vigorously promote defence cooperation and exchanges while maintaining communication between the defense officials.
Japanese Defence Minister Kono indicated the importance of both countries in maintaining seamless defense posture and continued and “strengthened bilateral defense cooperation to uphold and reinforce the free and open Indo-Pacific taking into consideration the implication of COVID-19”, according to a press release issued by the Japanese embassy.
The Japanese minister commended Pakistan’s role for regional peace and stability, especially the efforts of the Pakistan Army in battling the scourge of terrorism.
COVID-19 and role of military
Pakistan and Japan also discussed counter-measures and implications of the spread of COVID-19 on defense policy of each country and decided to share information and lessons learned on the measures by the defense authorities to overcome the pandemic.
The role of armed forces and defence organisations in the fight against coronavirus was also reviewed in the meeting.
The Japanese minister explained the extensive activities of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) at the cruise ship Diamond Princess, and preventive measures at the airport to avoid community spread of infection that resulted in zero infections in the deployed members. Pakistan’s Army Chief General Bajwa described the recent activities and measures undertaken by Pakistan military and country’s successful fight against COVID-19. He also thanked Japan for offering assistance to Pakistan to tackle the locust crisis.
In 2019, Pakistan and Japan on signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defense cooperation and exchanges after the 10th round of military-to-military talks at the Ministry of Defense to diversify and strengthen bilateral ties.