Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has talked about promoting ties with France to secure a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region.
Abe spoke at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday before having a luncheon meeting at the Elysee Palace.
Abe told reporters that Japan and France are special partners which share universal values, such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
He noted that now that the international order is being challenged, bilateral cooperation will be much more crucial.
Abe said he hoped that the countries will step up cooperation with the aim of realizing a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region.
France is a stakeholder in the region, as the country has South Pacific territories, such as New Caledonia.
Calling Japan and France "flag-bearers" for free trade, Abe expressed hope that the 2 countries will take a leadership role in putting a Japan-EU economic partnership agreement into force quickly.
In response, Macron said the 2 countries have strong and friendly ties and face the challenge of maintaining the balance of power and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Macron said he is happy to work with Japan.