PARIS – Japan and France agreed Thursday to share information about exports of equipment with military potential, after Japan raised concern about a French defense company’s export to China of devices enabling helicopters to land on ships.
At “two-plus-two” security talks in Paris between the countries’ defense and foreign ministers, it was agreed to launch a bilateral panel to discuss such exports.
Tokyo hopes the panel will prevent exports of such equipment to China, and keep in check its military buildup at a time when tensions run high over the territorial dispute involving the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China claims the islets, which it calls the Diaoyu.
Attending the meeting were Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
The ministers also agreed to strengthen cooperation between their defense forces, and confirmed plans to launch another panel to study joint development of defense equipment and quickly determine what equipment should be jointly developed, they said in a joint statement.
The panel to share information on exports would be held at the working level once or twice a year, with Tokyo planning to urge Paris to curb exports to China due to the potential impact on regional security, according to Japanese officials.
Through the other panel, Japan and France would aim to create rules on exporting jointly developed defense equipment to third countries, the officials said.
Japan has also held similar “two-plus-two security talks” with the United States, Australia and Russia.
Before the meeting, Kishida met separately with Fabius, while Onodera held talks with Le Drian.
Prior to his arrival in France, Kishida stopped in Spain for two days from Tuesday for talks with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.