According to the Japanese Ministry of Defence, on April 17, 2020, the Japanese Defence Minister and his French counterpart conferred on joint issues.
In a telephone conversation with Minister Parly of France:
The two ministers exchanged views on issues such as the roles to be played by the defense authorities given the global spread of COVID-19. Minister Kono explained about the infection-preventative measures Japan Self-Defense Forces have taken in their operation on the cruise ship Diamond Princess and analysis by the SDF Central Hospital using a presentation document (see attached). Minister Parly also explained about the situations and measures taken in France.
Further, two ministers exchanged views on defense cooperation between Japan and France.
Minister Kono, taking into consideration the implications of COVID-19, expressed the importance of both countries’ maintaining watertight defense system and of continued and strengthened bilateral defense cooperation based on the vision of Free and Open Indo Pacific.
The two ministers agreed on the following three points bearing in mind the circumstances arisen by the spread of COVID-19;
(1) sharing information, knowledge and lessons learnt about the measures taken by defense authorities towards overcoming COVID-19 at the earliest stage;
(2) necessity of sharing threat recognition based on current circumstances and potential effects of the spread of the virus that each country may undergo in terms of defense policy from the perspectives of roles to be played by defense authorities; and
(3) promoting vigorously defense cooperation and exchanges, including the 2+2 meeting at the earliest possible timing, based on the vision of Free and Open Indo Pacific while maintaining communication between the defense authorities.
This was a follow up from the fifth annual Japanese-French Foreign and Defence Ministers meetings which were held last year, on January 11, 2019.
At that meeting: The four Ministers shared the view that Japan and France, as “Exceptional Partners” sharing fundamental values and strategic interests, and the Chair of G20 and G7 respectively this year, would cooperate closely towards the peace and stability of the international community.
The four Ministers shared the view that the two countries, which are both maritime and Pacific nations, would advance concrete cooperation in order to maintain and strengthen free and open Indo-Pacific. In particular, in order to materialize the cooperation in the maritime area, the four Ministers decided to establish the Japan-France Comprehensive Maritime Dialogue.
The four Ministers welcomed France’s announcement of the Strategic Review and Military Planning Law 2019–2025, and Japan’s announcement of the National Defense Program Guidelines and Med-Term Defense Force Buildup Program.
Japan-France security and defense cooperation
(1) The four Ministers welcomed that a joint exercise had been held when the French naval frigate Vendemiaire had made a port call in Japan in February last year, and shared the view that Japan and France would hold joint exercise this year, taking the opportunity of France’s deployment of an aircraft carrier group led by the French aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle to the Indian Ocean. In addition, the four Ministers shared the view that Japan and France would hold joint exercises and trainings in all military services in the Indo-Pacific region in a regular and practical manner.
(2) The four Ministers shared the view that they would further cooperate in the areas of maritime security including Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), and capacity-building assistance in Southeast Asian and Pacific Island countries, while ensuring synergy among the two countries’ efforts in the Indo-Pacific region.
(3) With regard to defense equipment and technology cooperation, the four Ministers welcomed the commencement of a joint research on next-generation mine-countermeasure technology, which would be the first cooperation project between the two countries in this area.
(4) In order to create and develop a free, fair, and safe cyberspace, the four Ministers shared the view that they would work closely together through various fora including the Japan- France Bilateral Consultations on Cybersecurity. In addition, the four Ministers welcomed the deepening of cooperation on space, and confirmed that they would further strengthen their cooperation in both the security and civilian sectors through the next Japan-France Comprehensive Dialogue on Space and other opportunities.
(1) The four Ministers reaffirmed the necessity to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges by North Korea and for fully implementing the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Minister Kono and Minister Iwaya highly appreciated France’s decision to dispatch vessel and aircraft in the first half of this year to monitor illegal activities at sea, including “ship-to-ship” transfers. The four Ministers confirmed that they would continue to work closely for the full implementation of the UNSC resolutions.
(2) The four Ministers also exchanged views on the situation in Iran, including the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and confirmed that Japan and France would continue to work closely on this issue.
(3) The four Ministers reaffirmed the importance of a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law, and expressed their strong opposition to unilateral actions increasing tensions.
(4) In addition, the four Ministers exchanged views on disarmament and non-proliferation, and regional situations including on Syria and Russia.
The featured photo is from the meeting last year between the two governments held at Brest, France.