Asahi reported that Japan and some European countries are anxious to ramp up their mutual coordination to rein in China’s growing presence, noting that Tokyo is capitalizing on Europe’s growing criticism of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and human rights issues at home and in Hong Kong to build momentum for its free and open Indo-Pacific initiative. Foreign Minister Motegi told the press yesterday that Japan welcomes France’s ongoing deployment of a frigate in East Asia to crack down on ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned materials to and from North Korea. Germany also plans to dispatch a warship to the region later this year on the same mission. As the Biden administration is set to deepen coordination with its allies in dealing with China, the GOJ is reportedly hoping to strengthen trilateral partnership with Europe and the U.S. in keeping the region free and open in the face of Beijing’s pursuit of maritime hegemony.
Nikkei ran a similar story, adding that the UK is expected to send the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth to the region in April or later to conduct joint training with the U.S. Navy and the SDF.