Several government sources revealed on Jan. 22 that the Japanese and French governments are expected to reach a broad agreement on signing an acquisition and cross servicing agreement (ACSA) between the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the French armed forces at the 2+2 meeting of their ministers of foreign affairs and defense to be held in Tokyo on Jan. 26.
France will become the fourth country with which Japan has an ACSA after the U.S., Australia, and the UK. The two governments are increasingly concerned by China’s efforts to build military strongholds in the South China Sea and hope to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation through the ACSA.
The Japanese government is eyeing ratification by the extraordinary Diet session this fall for the agreement to take effect at an early date next year. The ACSA will enable mutual provision of food, fuel, ammunition, and other supplies between the SDF and the French forces, as well as broaden the scope of cooperation in terms of transportation and equipment maintenance.
French Polynesia is a French territory located in the South Pacific that has the second largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the world and France also has a naval base in New Caledonia, so it has a strong interest in freedom of navigation. Therefore, it is seriously alarmed by China’s aggressive maritime advances backed by military power. At the 2+2 held in France last year, it voiced strong opposition to China’s construction of large bases in the South China Sea.
Defense cooperation between Japan and France has expanded rapidly in recent years. Last April, a French navy Mistral-class amphibious assault ship made a port call at the Maritime SDF base in Sasebo (Nagasaki Prefecture). In May, Japan, the U.S., the UK, and France held their first joint exercises in Guam. The two countries are also engaged in joint development of unmanned submarines.