Japan, France Likely to Start Talks on Joint Drill Agreement This Week; Kishida to Meet Macron in Paris

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Kishida answers questions from reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on April 19.

Tokyo and Paris plan to begin talks on signing a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), which will make it easier to hold joint defense drills between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the French military, several government officials have said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Paris on Thursday where he is expected to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and reach an agreement to start talks. The two countries want to strengthen bilateral security ties to deter China’s aggressive maritime expansion.

An RAA defines the legal status of troops from signatory countries while inside the territory of a partner country such as for joint training. It exempts them from immigration checks and simplifies procedures for bringing in arms and ammunition. Japan has already concluded RAAs with Australia and the United Kingdom and is negotiating with the Philippines.

France has territories and military bases in the South Pacific, and like Japan and Australia, it is highly concerned about China, which has been ramping up its military activities in the Indo-Pacific.

Last year, the Ground Self-Defense Force and the French Army conducted joint drills in New Caledonia, and the Air Self-Defense Force and the French air and space force conducted joint drills in Miyazaki Prefecture.

The two governments have been strengthening ties by concluding the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology Agreement, which allows them to export defense equipment to each other, and the Acquisition and Cross-servicing Agreements, which let them exchange food and fuel for training in each other’s territory.

Kishida hopes to further strengthen France’s involvement in the Indo-Pacific region by signing the RAA.