Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Koji Tomita has offered up the strongest hint that NATO will open a liaison office in Tokyo, telling reporters that Japan was “working in that direction,” after a report said earlier this month that the security alliance would open its first such station in Asia.
Asked about the report during a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, Tomita confirmed that discussions have been taking place on how to strengthen Tokyo’s partnership with NATO after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida became the first Japanese leader to attend a NATO summit last June.
"I really haven't heard any final confirmation, but we are working in that direction,” he said without elaborating.
The office is expected to allow the military alliance to conduct periodic consultations with Japan and other key partners in the region, including South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, as their views continue to align on the challenge China presents, Nikkei Asia reported earlier this month, citing NATO and Japanese officials.
Japan and NATO agreed to deepen their partnership in January, during a visit by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, with both sides arguing that the international community is “facing changes defining an era,” as the military alliance seeks more support for Ukraine and Tokyo looks for like-minded partners to tackle the growing military challenges posed by China and North Korea.