France and Japan vowed on Thursday to strengthen their military ties, as Tokyo seeks French support in its long-running spat with Beijing over disputed islands that has raised fresh tensions in the region.
Taiwan, China and Japan claim a set of islands in the East China Sea — the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), called the Senkaku Islands in Japan — as their own territory and the escalating row between China and Japan has raised concerns that the two countries could eventually come to blows.
“We want to put in place concrete actions ... to reinforce defense technology and industry in both [our] countries,” French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius said at a joint press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, after they held their first so-called “2+2” meeting along with their countries’ defense ministers.
French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian said the two nations planned to cooperate in areas such as the latest generation helicopters, drones and submarines.
Kishida was in France after a trip to Spain, as Japan strives to gain a greater presence on the world stage.
Kishida said he had discussed with Fabius the island row with China, amid widespread fears it could lead to a clash.
“Peace in the region is something we must work for together. We hope to have France’s understanding,” Kishida said.