Japan and the United States have welcomed planned naval deployments this year by major European countries to Indo-Pacific waters, as China's rapid military modernization and maritime and territorial ambitions prompt moves to increase deterrence.

With Beijing demonstrating increasing assertiveness in the East and South China seas and on the India-China border, Britain will deploy the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and its strike group to East Asia, France will dispatch a naval vessel to Japan and Germany will send a frigate to the Indian Ocean — all planned for 2021, according to government announcements and news reports.

"Japan has potential for further development of defense cooperation with Europe," Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said in an online meeting with his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Dec. 15.