Kishida, Macron Concur on Deeper Security Ties, Agree to Start Negotiations on Accord to Facilitate Joint Drills to Counter Chinese Hegemony in Pacific

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Thursday.

PARIS – Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and French President Emmanuel Macron, meeting in Paris on Thursday, concurred on bolstering bilateral security cooperation and agreed on the start of negotiations for an accord to facilitate joint drills between the Self-Defense Forces and the French Army.

The aim of reaching a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) enabling joint drills between Japan and France is to propagate a partnership for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region in light of China’s maritime hegemony.

The two governments have been steadily deepening ties regarding security, including signing an Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) in 2019 that enables the SDF and French forces to mutually provide each other with food and fuel.

Last year, Japan and France conducted joint exercises in French New Caledonia in the South Pacific, Miyazaki Prefecture and other locations as the countries crank up interactions between them.

At Thursday’s meeting, Kishida and Macron welcomed these developments and confirmed to work to strengthen cooperation toward the realization of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

An RAA defines the legal status of the SDF and the military of the partner country when they operate on each other’s sovereign territory. It exempts visiting personnel from immigration requirements for temporary stays for joint drills and other purposes, while also simplifying procedures for bringing in weapons and ammunition, thus intensifying the training exercises.

With China in mind, Japan has already concluded RAAs with Australia and Britain, and is currently negotiating one with the Philippines.

In response, Beijing is trying to break up the ring of allied forces opposing it. Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit France on Sunday to meet with Macron. It is believed that by strengthening ties with France, which traditionally has placed importance on diplomatic independence, Beijing intends to disrupt coordination among the countries that are aligned against it.

Kishida is seen as making a preemptive strike against such action by appealing for a strong Japan-France relationship prior to Xi’s visit to France.

Kishida and Macron also discussed the situations in Ukraine and Gaza during a working lunch.