Japan is ready to sign a USD 1.6 billion aircraft deal with India. Tokyo said on Sunday that talks were going on with New Delhi for the sale of Shinmaywa US-2 search and rescue aircraft.

According to sources close to the Japanese Defence Ministry, the Shinzo Abe government might reduce the price for the USD 1.6 billion deal as much as possible to finalise the deal. Sources said that Japan’s main purpose is not to make any economic gain from the deal, but to help India strengthen its arsenal and boost anti-China co-operation in Asia.

A top Japanese Defence Ministry official said that they consider India as a friendly nation with which Tokyo wants to maintain ‘close’ ties. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, also said it was unfortunate that the deal for 12 amphibious aircraft had collapsed over pricing and technology transfer issues.

The official emphasised the huge symbolic significance of the proposed deal in the current Asian geopolitical landscape, saying that it would be a strong message to China about deepening Indo-Japan defence and security co-operation. “Our position is that if this agreement happens, it will have a very favourable impact on our relations with India. We understand there are some consultations underway in India over pricing. Pricing is determined by several factors. We are not doing this for economic gains, but for our friendly relations with India and can look at reducing the price to the extent possible,” he added.

Meanwhile, India has welcomed Japan’s decision, saying that New Delhi will try to conclude the negotiation process before PM Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Tokyo. India plans to deploy the Shinmaywa US-2 aircraft in the Andaman Nicobar Islands because of its short takeoff capability.

In 2014, Modi and Abe signed an agreement for transfer of defence equipment and technology as a part of their plan to boost maritime security especially in South China Sea and Indian Ocean. As both India and Japan are victims of Chinese territorial aggression, the two friendly nations are trying hard to counter the Asian giant together.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog – Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]