Japan, France Ministers 'concerned' About China

Japan, France ministers 'concerned' about China

The foreign and defense ministers of Japan and France have expressed strong concern about China's maritime assertiveness. They have agreed to establish a dialogue framework to boost maritime cooperation.

The ministers met at a naval facility in the northwestern French city of Brest on Friday. This is the fifth so-called "two-plus-two" meeting between Japan and France.

It brought together Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, as well as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly.

The ministers expressed strong concern about China's increasing maritime activities in the East and South China Seas. They agreed to strongly oppose unilateral actions that raise tensions.
The ministers also agreed to launch a working-level maritime dialogue framework to improve collaboration between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and French military units stationed on islands in the South Pacific.

Delegates to the dialogue will comprehensively discuss matters in such fields as national security, science, technology, environment, and energy.

The Japanese and French governments say they will hold the first session of the dialogue by the end of the year.

The ministers agreed that Japanese destroyers will hold a joint exercise with France's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle when the latter operates in the Indian Ocean.

Japan announced last month that it would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling.

The ministers confirmed that France will keep Japan's stance in mind and that both countries will continue to exchange opinions on sustainable maintenance and preservation of whale stocks.