Japan permanent member of Malabar exercise: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that Japan was now a permanent member of Malabar exercise which also involves India and the US. "Till now India and US took part and Japan took part in it off and on. Now we have decided that it will be a permanent member of Malabar exercise," she said in response to a query at her annual press conference.  The Malabar joint military exercise between India, Japan and the US took place early this month.  Indian and US navies have regularly conducted Malabar exercise since 1992. Answering another query concerning South China Sea, Sushma Swaraj said India has a definite policy on maritime disputes. She said there should be a peaceful settlement and if such a course was not possible, then there was an "international mechanism."  She said the issue concerning South China Sea did not figure during recent visit of Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to China.  There have been concerns over China's claims over South China Sea which have been contested by some of its maritime neighbours.