The Indian and Japanese navies have reportedly conducted an exercise in the Indian Ocean amidst ongoing India-China border tensions in Ladakh.

Rajput-class destroyer INS Rana and Kora-class missile corvette INS Kulish of the Indian Navy participated in the ‘goodwill training’ exercise.

The Japanese vessels are JS Shimayuki and JS Kashima. They belong to the country’s Maritime Self-Defence Force’s training squadron.

Japanese embassy in New Delhi spokesperson Toshihide Ando was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying: “The content of this exercise is tactical training and communications training with no specific scenario.”

According to undisclosed sources, the passing exercise (PASSEX) is considered a significant strategic signalling for China.

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National Maritime Foundation director-general vice-admiral Pradeep Chauhan was quoted by the publication as saying: “We need to be proximate with our friends and the Chinese know there is a direct ladder of escalation between Japan and the United States.”

In the last three years, the Indian and Japanese navies have conducted 15 of these training exercises.

Since 2015, Japan has also been regularly taking part in naval drills between India and the US.

The bilateral exercise Malabar began in 1992 in the Indian Ocean. Last year, it was held in Sasebo in September.

In 2018, India and Japan launched an annual joint land military exercise called Dharma Guardian.