Japan, India invite media to observe air drills

Defense officials of Japan and India have allowed the media to cover their joint fighter drills outside Tokyo. They say they are making arrangements to hold similar exercises in India.

Japan's Air Self-Defense Force and the Indian Air Force on Monday invited reporters to observe the first such training sessions with India in Japan.

The exercises began at the Hyakuri Base in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, on January 16 and are scheduled to continue until January 26.

Bad weather kept the Indian aircraft grounded. But an Indian commander was able to ride along in a Japanese F-2 fighter.

Central Air Defense Force commander Sakamoto Koichi and Air Marshal Pankaj Sinha, chief of the Indian Air Force's Western Air Command, held a joint news conference.

Sakamoto said the training can help deepen ties between the two forces and contribute to regional peace and stability.

Air Marshal Sinha said their cultures and languages are different, but that they found they have many things in common.

He disclosed that the air force has asked the Japanese side to conduct joint fighter drills in India.

The Air Self-Defense Force said details are still being arranged, and added that it hopes to boost cooperation with the Indian Air Force.