The India-Japan defence and security partnership forms an integral pillar of bilateral ties
The 5th edition of joint military exercise Dharma Guardian between the Indian Army and the Japan Ground Self Defence Force commenced at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan (India) on Sunday (February 25, 2024), marking yet another chapter in the growing defence relationship between the two nations.
Exercise 'Dharma Guardian’, which is an annual exercise conducted alternatively in India and Japan, will continue till March 9, 2024.
Both sides are participating with contingents of 40 personnel each. The Japanese contingent is being represented by troops from the 34th Infantry Regiment and the Indian Army contingent is being represented by a Battalion from the Rajputana Rifles.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the aim of the exercise is to foster military cooperation and enhance combined capabilities to execute joint operations in semi-urban environments under Chapter VII of United Nations Charter. The Exercise would focus on a high degree of physical fitness, joint planning, joint tactical drills and basics of special arms skills.
Tactical drills to be practiced during the exercise will include establishing of Temporary Operating Base, creating an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Grid, setting up Mobile Vehicle Check Post, executing Cordon and Search Operations in a hostile village, Heliborne operations and House Intervention Drills. A Weapon and Equipment Display will also be organised showcasing ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative and the growing defence industrial capability of the country.
Lieutenant General Togashi Yuichi, Commanding General, Eastern Army, Japan Ground Self Defence Force is also scheduled to visit India on the sidelines of Exercise Dharma Guardian. The General officer will visit Mahajan Field Firing Ranges on March 3, 2024 and witness Combat Shooting demonstration, Special Heliborne Operation (SHBO) & House Intervention Drills.
Exercise Dharma Guardian will enable the two sides to share their best practices in Tactics, Techniques and Procedures of conducting tactical operations, the Ministry of Defence said. It will also facilitate developing interoperability, bonhomie and camaraderie between troops of both sides.
“This will enhance the level of defence cooperation, further fostering bilateral relations between the two friendly nations,” the ministry added.
Strong Bilateral Defence Relationship

The two countries share a ‘Special and Strategic Global Partnership’. The India-Japan defence and security partnership forms an integral pillar of bilateral ties.
India-Japan defence exchanges have gained strength in recent years due to growing convergence on strategic matters and its significance is growing from the common outlook on issues of peace, security and stability of the Indo-Pacific Region.
The close cooperation stems from the 2008 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (JDSC) between India and Japan and the 2014 Memorandum of Defence Cooperation and Exchanges. In 2015, an agreement concerning Transfer of Defence Equipment & Technology Cooperation and agreement concerning Security Measures for Protection of Classified Military information were signed.
This is not all. In 2018, the two sides signed an Implementing Arrangement for Deeper Cooperation between Indian Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF). The Agreement concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the Self-Defence Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces (RPSS) was signed on 9 September 2020.
In January 2023, India and Japan held their first joint air exercise, Exercise Veer Guardian, involving fighter jets. The bilateral exercise, held at the Hyakuri Air Base in Japan, came three months after the second 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial meeting held in Tokyo, Japan on September 8, 2022.
During this meeting, India and Japan agreed to step up bilateral defence cooperation and engage in more military exercises, including holding the first joint fighter jet drills, reflecting the growing security cooperation between the two sides. 
The Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) JMSDF have a long-standing relationship of cooperation. Since 2012, they have been participating in the annual Japan India Maritime Exercise (FIMEX) which is hosted alternately by the two countries.
In addition to the bilateral JIMEX, the Indian Navy and the JMSDF also take part in the multilateral Malabar Exercise alongside the US Navy and the Australian Navy.