/

Japan, France ink defense gear transfer pact at two-plus-two meeting

by

Staff Writer

Japan and France signed a pact on defense equipment transfers Friday at a meeting of their foreign and defense chiefs in Tokyo to strengthen bilateral ties in security.

The four ministers also agreed to begin talks on an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement that stipulates mutual provision of supplies, including food, water and fuel, as well as transportation and repair services between their militaries.

“We were able to further step up bilateral security and defense cooperation,” with the concrete results of inking the pact and starting a discussion toward concluding an ACSA, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters along with other ministers after the so-called two-plus-two gathering at the ministry’s Iikura Guest House.

The pact paves the way for defense equipment and technology transfers and will promote joint projects in several fields, including “unmanned systems,” according to a statement released after the talks.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said both countries share a common interest in unmanned technologies for underwater search missions or surveillance, but declined to elaborate.

It was the second two-plus-two meeting for Japan and France following one in January 2014 in Paris.

Saying Japan is the only Asian country France holds such “high level” political and defense dialogue with, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the talks underscore how much his country trusts the partnership with Tokyo.

At the meeting, Nakatani said he explained the ongoing talks on security legislation Japan is conducting to give the Self-Defense Forces an expanded role abroad.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he welcomed Japan’s efforts to make greater contributions to the international community.

“I’m glad that Japan will make further contributions to the peace and stability of the world and its presence will be bigger,” Le Drian said.

Le Drian also said he expects the ACSA framework to be concluded quickly and predicted it would further strengthen bilateral ties.

The four also pledged joint efforts against terrorism, denouncing the terrorist acts that struck France and Japanese citizens “in the strongest terms,” the statement said.

Kishida said both countries will collaborate on several points in this regard, including preventive steps against violent extremism and measures against funding terrorists.

Terrorist attacks in France in January left 17 people dead, while two Japanese were recently killed by the Islamic State group after being taken hostage in Syria.

Meanwhile, the four chiefs also confirmed cooperation on natural disasters and diseases, such as Ebola.

The four ministers also stressed that any conflicts should be resolved through dialogue and talks based on international law. They pledged to cooperate on stability in Ukraine, which is in armed conflict with Russia.

On reform of the United Nations Security Council, they said there was a need to “yield concrete results” to that end by the end of the year, which marks the 70th anniversary of the organization.

Japan is pushing to reform the U.N. Security Council as a member of the so-called Group of Four nations along with Germany, Brazil and India. France is one of the five permanent members of the council who have veto rights.