Japan, France strengthens peace in Indo-Pacific

On Tuesday, Japan and France vowed to continue working to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific area, where China has been increasing its influence militarily and economically.

During their “two-plus-two” discussions, the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries also reaffirmed that their fundamental stances on Taiwan are unaltered, presumably in response to controversial comments about the self-governing, democratic island by the president of France earlier this month.

When Macron stated in a television interview that Europe must not be a “follower” of United States and China amid their fierce competition over the Taiwan problem, he attracted ire from his Western allies.

Additionally, due to Beijing’s maritime aggression in the East and South China seas, Japan has recently strengthened its security ties with France and other European nations in the Indo-Pacific area.

Following the virtual security talks, the French ambassadors Catherine Colonna and Sebastien Lecornu, along with the Japanese foreign ministers Yoshimasa Hayashi and Yasukazu Hamada, expressed “grave concerns over the situations in the East and South China seas.”

They reiterated their opposition to “any unilateral attempts to alter status quo by force or by coercion,” the statement said.

China has been applying increasing military pressure on Taiwan because it views the island as its own and wants it to be unified with the mainland, possibly by force.

According to the statement, the ministers also concurred that stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait are “indispensable” for world security and development and advocated for a peaceful resolution of the cross-strait dispute.

The last of these six ministerial security discussions between Japan and France occurred in January last year.

In 1972, Japan severed diplomatic connections with Taiwan and re-established them with the mainland, recognizing Beijing’s Communist leadership as China’s sole legitimate government. Relations between Japan and Taiwan have been preserved on a nongovernmental basis.

To ensure a more seamless deployment of their forces to one another for joint exercises or disaster relief efforts, the four ministers further stated that they had instructed their officials to speed up discussions on setting up frameworks like a Reciprocal Access Agreement.

Australia and the United Kingdom both have RAAs with Japan.

The four have also decided to support the two nations’ collaborative study on cutting-edge technologies to find undersea mines.

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