Japan, France sign joint military research pact
France and Japan agreed Friday to work together on researching military equipment, as Tokyo looks to broaden its defence ties and bolster its international profile.
In the latest in a spate of so-called "2+2" meetings, involving defence and foreign ministers, the fellow G7 members signalled a closer working relationship.
In a joint statement, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Japanese Defence Minister Gen Nakatani and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to fight terrorism, to help bring stability to Ukraine, and to seek political solutions to crisis-hit Syria and Iraq.
The two sides signed a pact over the transfer of defence equipment and technology, setting up a plan that will eventually lead to Japan and France jointly developing military kit.
The agreement is the latest effort under hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to strengthen Japan's military ties with friendly nations, as he looks to offset the growing might of China.
As well as a long-standing relationship with the United States, Tokyo has recently begun forging closer ties with Britain and Australia, holding 2+2s with both countries as he looks to increase his country's diplomatic clout while also boosting its defence capability.
"This will set the framework for our collaboration on a number of prospects in the fields of space, helicopters, drones and so on," Fabius told AFP in an interview held ahead of the two-plus-two talks.
Japan and France are eyeing joint research on technologies related to sonar, unmanned submersible vessels, robot and cyber-defence, Japanese media said.
The ministers also agreed to cooperate in the global fight against terrorism, a subject that has renewed significance for the two nations.
Attacks by Islamist gunmen on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and other facilities in January shocked the world.
Japan, meanwhile, was left reeling by the beheadings of a respected journalist and a self-styled contractor by self-proclaimed Islamic State extremists.
Japan and France will cooperate over fighting terrorism "because unfortunately the two countries have recently been affected," Fabius told AFP.
© 2015 AFP