Japan, France eye arms export notice

Kyodo

Japan and France plan to hold their first security talks early next year, possibly in the first half of January, to discuss establishing an arrangement under which Tokyo would be notified of exports from France of equipment that could be diverted to military use, Japanese government sources said.

During the “two-plus-two” meeting of defense and foreign ministers in Paris, the two countries are expected to agree to strengthen intelligence-sharing on terrorism and security as Tokyo eyes the establishment of a body styled after the U.S. National Security Council by the end of 2014.

The envisioned arrangement comes after a French defense company’s move to sell to China equipment that would enable helicopters to land on ships. Japan hopes such an arrangement would curb future exports of similar equipment to Beijing.

At the meeting, Tokyo and Paris are also expected to confirm the establishment of a working-level consultation on joint development of defense equipment, according to the sources.

The talks will involve Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera from the Japanese side, and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian from the French side.

The first two-plus-two security talks between Japan and France would follow those Japan has had with the United States, Australia and Russia.

By confirming stronger security cooperation with the countries, Japan is hoping to warn against China’s increasing willingness to assert its claims and interests in regional waters.

The envisioned joint development of defense equipment between Japan and France would be the second after one between Japan and Britain.

France has shown interest in Japan’s cutting-edge technology, following an easing of Tokyo’s self-imposed restrictions on arms exports, with potential cost benefits for the Japanese side in the envisioned joint development of defense equipment.

Besides visiting France for the security talks, Kishida and Onodera may visit other countries, including in Europe and in Africa, according to the sources.