France, Japan back free navigation in Asia-Pacific, Abe says

French President Francois Hollande and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a joint declaration at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday. Reuters photo

PARIS —

France and Japan support a “free and open maritime order” in the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after talks with French President Francois Hollande on Monday.

The message seemed aimed at China, which claims almost all the South China Sea and which has fueled concern in Japan and the West with its growing military presence in the waterway.

“Francois and I agreed on the importance of ensuring a free and open maritime order in the Indo-Pacific region (and) of continuing to support the stability and prosperity of this region,” Abe told reporters after the talks.

Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said last week, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two. China pledged a firm response if Japan stirred up trouble in the South China Sea.

Abe underlined the importance of separate naval exercises involving personnel or equipment from Japan, France, Britain and the United States to be held around Tinian island in the western Pacific in May.

Hollande said France reaffirmed its support for an increased Japanese peace-keeping role and said the two countries would work together to improve the ability of their forces to cooperate.

He assured Abe of France’s support after North Korea this month fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest coast. He also denounced the development of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs, which he said violated all its international obligations.

Reflecting concerns over rising protectionist sentiment in the United States and elsewhere, Abe said Japan and France wanted to continue to be “champions of free trade” and said an agreement on a free-trade pact with the European Union would send an important message.

Hollande also voiced support for the proposed EU-Japan trade accord which is being negotiated.

France and Japan also signed an agreement on reinforced cooperation on nuclear energy.

Two Japanese firms, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, agreed in February to buy a combined 10 percent stake in a new company being split off from Areva for 500 million euros ($537 million), helping a state-backed rescue of the French nuclear group.

Abe earlier met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hanover.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

  • 4

    Yubaru

    Like it or not, free navigation also means allowing China free passage as well.

    France and Japan also signed an agreement on reinforced cooperation on nuclear energy.

    Could this be the main point of the article?

    Would love to see the French or anyone else with the experience, come and "cooperate" more with the Fukushima disaster!

  • 2

    AlexBec

    No one told China they do not have freedom of navigation. They're the ones telling others how they should behave when your in the South China Sea, who can come and who can go, China is the one building illegal islands and arming them too. Telling Japan or America not to come in the SCS. But it's okay for China to send their ships and do laps around Okinawa and Mainland Japan. Invade our airspace and Waters hundreds of times a year.

  • -7

    Schopenhauer

    Abe is traveling around the world very often and teling what is happening in this part of the world. He is doing a very good job though I do not trust cunning and selfish France.

  • 1

    otherworldly

    Of course, France backs free navigation. They supply most of the uranium for Japans nuclear reactors. Japan reprocesses its spent fuel in France. By reprocessing, the country reduces its need for newly enriched uranium. New fuel is purchased via long-term contracts with fuel manufacturers, such as Westinghouse, Areva, etc. Viva la France.

  • 1

    Fred Wallace

    Great job dear leader. Keep that deflection coming just as the noose tightens back home!!

  • 3

    zizou2016

    @Yubari

    France proposed its experience and help to cope with the Fukushima disaster and some experts came here to assess the situation but at the end of the day Japan kindly refused any assistance and just accepted a water decontamination unit which Japan said does not work. In addition to giving jobs to the locals Japan just wanna use Fukushima to develop its own technologies then in a few years will try to get some decommissioning tenders overseas

  • 0

    Goodlucktoyou

    Japanese companies rescueing a failing French nuke company. Already taxpayers money are paying Abe's two luxury airlines to visit, plus hotels etc. I guarantee next 6 months news will be the Japanese taxpayers will "fund" the economic development and cooperation between French and Japanese nuclear industry.

  • 0

    mr_jgb

    Some historians have reviewed and opined that World War 2, was triggered by Japan invading China (Manchuria in1937), and then its greater ambitions and alliances from there. The world will get bigger conflict and end in greater global war conflict, when you have myopic egoistic leaders widening a neighborhood historic conflict, to that of regional, and then global conflict drawing more players and more complications, with potential weapons of mass destruction beneath. This tragic direction and course seem to have started.

    Just like in life, a husband and wife conflict with get bigger and bigger and too complicated to be resolved when more parties are added in to take side, then pride and stubborn-ness hardened and "all-out war of divorce/hatred" becomes the outcome. Husband & wife conflict should be left to their own to resolve and drag in more parties. Solution: Big conflict maketh into smaller conflict, small conflict maketh no conflict.

  • -1

    Wakarimasen

    Like what France thinks about navigation in APAC matters. China must be quaking in its boots.

  • 0

    goldorak

    Like what France thinks about navigation in APAC matters. China must be quaking in its boots.

    France is the only euro nation with territories in the Pacific region (NC, Wallis & Futuna, French Polynesia) and the Indian ocean (Reunion, Mayotte and a couple of others). They also have close ties with countries from former French Indochina (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) as well as Japan and Oz. So yes, nothing wrong with Abe saying that “Francois and I agreed on the importance of ensuring a free and open maritime order in the Indo-Pacific region (and) of continuing to support the stability and prosperity of this region,” as they are part of it. Not giving a toss would be an issue.

  • -1

    toshiko

    Watch out Japan. France might be dreaming to make Japan as colony.

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