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French forces joined the Self-Defense Forces and the Australian and U.S. militaries last week for a multilateral amphibious exercise in Kyushu. It was the first time French troops had trained on Japanese soil in the postwar era.

Why France? That would better be phrased as “Why not France?” argues Michael MacArthur Bosack. The two countries have demonstrated that there is plenty underwriting their “exceptional partnership,” built on years of political-military coordination.

The progression of the partnership has not been so exceptional, Bosack notes, as it has followed the same exact order as Japan’s ties with Australia and Britain before it, with the specter of China looming over proceedings.

Japan hosts military exercises with the U.S., France and Australia amid tension over East China Sea | SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Japan hosts military exercises with the U.S., France and Australia amid tension over East China Sea | SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

And why Britain? Assuming that post-Brexit U.K., like Japan, wants to remain a power that can shape international relations in ways favoring its interests, it makes sense to reach out to like-minded states. And Japan is just that, argues Jeffrey W. Hornung.

Officials in Tokyo, who have long lobbied European partners to be more active in the Indo-Pacific, are welcoming their renewed interest. But to take advantage of the growing common ground, Tokyo now needs to show leadership by setting out a long-term roadmap for cooperation that will cement these countries’ presence in the area, writes Satoshi Sugiyama.

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