'Today's Ukraine could be tomorrow's East Asia': Japan and France agree to bolster cooperation

'Today's Ukraine could be tomorrow's East Asia': Japan and France agree to bolster cooperation

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to strengthen their military cooperation on Thursday.

Kishida met with the French president over lunch at the Elysée Palace in Paris where they discussed a possible Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) after the Japanese prime minister attended a forum at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The RAA could facilitate military cooperation by allowing the entry of foreign personnel and conducting joint drills in maritime waters.

'China's attempts to change status quo is concerning'

Their meeting comes as China’s maritime assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific Ocean is increasing.

“We are concerned with the unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China Seas,” explained Maki Kobayashi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

France has overseas territories in the Indo-Pacific, such as the island of New Caledonia.

Japan has sought to strengthen defence ties amid concerns about Beijing, including the dispute over the freedom of navigation in the region and over the Senkaku islands, administered by Tokyo but claimed by China.

The talks come as China’s President Xi Jinping is set to arrive in Paris on Monday to meet with the French leader and the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

For the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this visit does not jeopardise the ongoing talks between Tokyo and Paris.

“I think we are on the same page among G7 countries. There are many challenges which are posed by China but also opportunities. We have to deliver the messages where we are concerned and we would like China to be a responsible power. But at the same time, we need to cooperate on issues such as climate change,” said Kobayashi in an interview with Euronews.

'Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific security are inseparable'

Kishida and Macron also agreed to maintain close collaboration on other issues, such as the conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Kobayashi said that Tokyo has demonstrated "unwavering support for Ukraine following Russia’s full-scale invasion," emphasising the importance of defending the rules-based international order. She warned, "Today's Ukraine could be tomorrow's East Asia".

The spokesperson also reminded that Japan has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza saying it will “bring about the release of hostages and make a better environment for humanitarian assistance to arrive to those who are in need”.

“Euro-Atlantic security and Indo-Pacific security are inseparable. The recent rapprochement of Russia and North Korea illustrates that point. We really have to work together in solidarity with the entire international community,” said Maki Kobayashi.