Japan, France discuss arms, Africa at two+two talks in Paris
Japan’s defence and foreign ministers were in Paris on Thursday to talk with their French counterparts about regional security, a first step towards future joint military equipment projects.
As tension grows in its relations with China, Japan has held similar “two-plus-two” security talks with the United States, Australia and Russia.
Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera visited Madrid before coming to Paris, where they were to meet Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian for the first such meeting with the French.
The Japanese, who say they share "fundamental values of freedom and democracy" with Europe, were expected to bring up the issue of the Senkaku Islands, which both Tokyo and Beijing claims as their territory.
China, which calls the the Diaoyu islands, recently declared a new air-defence zone in the East China Sea, coviring the islands, leading to Japan, South Korea and the US sending fighter aircraft into the zone.
France recently sold China some ship-based helicopter-landing equipment that Japan is concerned will enhance the Chinese ability to patrol the contested islands.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has increased defence spending and wants to drop Japan's pacifist laws, adopted after its defeat in World War II.
Both Japan and France are interested in collaborating on military equipment and France is particularly keen on getting access to Japanese military procurement, through cost-sharing and joint projects, Guibourg Delamotte, a Japan expert at the French National Institute of Oriental Studies, told RFI.
The ministers were also expected to discuss cooperation in international crises, especially in Africa.