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Japan, France Discuss Peace, Stability in Indo-Pacific Region

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Japan and France pledged on Tuesday to remain committed to ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, where China has been expanding its economic and military clout.

The two nations’ foreign and defense ministers also confirmed during their “two-plus-two” talks that their basic positions on Taiwan remain unchanged, apparently in light of French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial remarks last month in relation to the self-ruled democratic island.

Macron drew criticism from Western partners when he said in a media interview that Europe must not be a “follower” of either the United States or China amid an intense rivalry between them over the Taiwan issue.

Their teleconference also comes as Japan has been deepening security ties with France and other European states in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years, amid vigilance against Beijing’s maritime assertiveness in the East and South China seas.

In a joint statement issued after the virtual security talks, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and their French counterparts, Catherine Colonna and Sebastien Lecornu, aired “grave concerns over the situations in the East and South China seas.”

They also reaffirmed their opposition to “any unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force or coercion,” according to the statement.

China has been building up military pressure on Taiwan, regarding the island as its own to be reunited with the mainland, possibly by force.

The ministers also agreed that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is “indispensable” for global security and prosperity and called for a peaceful resolution of the cross-strait issue, according to the statement.

Japan and France held such ministerial security talks six times before, the last one taking place virtually in January last year.

Japan cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and established them with mainland China in 1972, recognizing the Communist leadership in Beijing as the sole legal government of China. Japan-Taiwan relations have been maintained on a nongovernmental basis.

The four ministers also said they directed their officials to accelerate discussions on setting up frameworks such as a Reciprocal Access Agreement to ensure a smoother deployment of their forces to each other for joint exercises or disaster relief efforts.

Japan has signed the RAAs with Australia and Britain.

The four have also agreed to promote the two countries’ joint research on next-generation technology to detect underwater mines.

Source: Japan Today

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