French ambassador: Ties with Japan important for Indo-Pacific region

The Yomiuri Shimbun
French Ambassador to Japan Philippe Setton

French Ambassador to Japan Philippe Setton, who took up his post in October last year, spoke about security issues in the Indo-Pacific region and cooperation between Japan and France in a recent interview with Yomiuri Shimbun staff writer Yuichi Morii. The following is a summary of his remarks:

In the Indo-Pacific region, France’s overseas territories and vast exclusive economic zones encompass a population of about 1.6 million people, and we take pride that our country is in this region. For French nationals living here, France has proactively committed to security issues of the entire region.

In recent years, China has shown an increasingly larger presence in the region, as the strategic importance of the region has been rising. Beijing has aimed to expand its influence through the huge economic zone it wants to create with the Belt and Road Initiative, planning to change the international order that we have constructed since the 1950s into a form that is convenient for China. Militarily and technologically, China has also gained in strength, making it a strong rival as it continues to expand its power.

On the other hand, we need to form partnerships when necessary for such issues as measures against climate change. China is a country with which we should get along, combining a competitive relationship with dialogue.

In 2018, France announced its defense strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. Our strategy presented ahead of other European nations has many commonalities with the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision that previous Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented.

To contribute to stability in the region, the pillars of our strategy are securing freedom of navigation and safe passage, anti-terrorism measures and the prevention of organized crime. To maintain the rule of law, we also need to take a multilateral stance, and our cooperative relationship with Japan, a great power in this region, is important.

France and Japan have built a special, wide-ranging, cooperative relationship. Besides politics, economy, trade, science and technology, defense and security are also important in the bilateral cooperation. By not only sharing information, but also through conducting joint military drills, the two countries will be able to act based on actual experiences. While strengthening our collaboration, we should raise the level of our relationship to a degree where France and Japan can rely on each other to take necessary actions when an incident occurs.