All Saturday evening and Sunday papers reported on a 2+2 foreign and defense ministerial meeting between Japan and France held in Paris on Friday, during which the two nations agreed to launch negotiations on a bilateral ACSA with the goal of enhancing interoperability between them. Japan and France also confirmed the importance of resolving maritime disputes peacefully, with China’s intense naval operations in the South China Sea in mind.
Monday’s Asahi wrote that the GOJ is promoting defense cooperation by establishing cooperative frameworks with Australia and European nations, including France and the UK, with the aim of keeping China in check. The paper speculated that Japan is setting up such frameworks in view of of the uncertainty of the Trump administration’s policy toward Asia. The paper wrote that it remains to be seen, however, whether such efforts will produce the intended results because European countries are more interested in security issues involving the Middle East and Russia than China. The paper speculated that French Foreign Minister Ayrault gave consideration to China by stating at a news conference after the 2+2 meeting that Japan is France’s second most important Asian partner.