Japan, France vow to enhance defense cooperation at 2-Plus-2 talks

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese and French governments agreed to enhance their defense cooperation at so-called two-plus-two talks among their foreign and defense ministers on Thursday, aiming to keep China’s hegemonic moves in check.

The two sides also confirmed that they will start working-level talks, with a view to concluding a reciprocal access agreement, or RAA, that serves as a legal basis for mutual visits by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the French military.

The two-plus-two talks between Japan and France, held via video conference, were the first since January 2019 and the sixth so far.

The virtual meeting was attended by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, as well as their French counterparts, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly, respectively.

In a joint statement released after the talks, the two governments said they will oppose China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo and its coercion in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

They voiced grave concern over the human rights situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, while underscoring the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The Japanese and French governments also expressed serious concern about progress on North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.