Japan, France agree to cooperate on COVID-19 and maritime security

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Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday agreed in Paris to strengthen their cooperation in response to the global coronavirus pandemic and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, according to the Japanese ministry Foreign Affairs.The ministers also confirmed close cooperation in monitoring activities at sea to prevent North Korean ships from engaging in illicit ship-to-ship cargo transfers, seen as a method of circumventing UN sanctions against the countries for its missile and nuclear programs, the ministry said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (left) and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian meet in Paris on October 1, 2020 (Photo provided by the Japanese Foreign Ministry) (Kyodo)

Tokyo has sought to coordinate with its European partners to combat China’s growing assertion in the South and East China Seas. The ministers agreed that their countries’ positions on issues in the region are the same, according to the ministry.

Japan and France, which have overseas territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, have stepped up their security relations, conducting joint military exercises at sea and regularly holding bilateral talks with foreign and foreign ministers. defense.

In France, the second stop on a four-country tour that also includes Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Motegi also confirmed his cooperation with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas during a teleconference on responses to coronavirus and the achievement of a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, the ministry said.

Motegi had originally planned to meet Maas in person in Germany during his trip to Europe, but the German minister had to isolate himself after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, a Japanese government source said.

During discussions with EU ministers, Motegi also asked for their support in resolving the issue of past kidnappings of Japanese nationals in North Korea, the ministry said.

While Raychelle Awuor Omamo, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, was also in France, Motegi took the opportunity to personally convey Japan’s intention to cooperate to strengthen the African country’s health system and the response. infectious diseases, the ministry said.

Earlier Thursday, Motegi also met with Audrey Azoulay, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and agreed to cooperate closely on the reform of the United Nations body, said the Ministry.

The talks came after South Korea asked UNESCO to remove “Meiji Japanese Industrial Revolution Sites: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mines” as a World Heritage Site, claiming that ‘she did not recognize the suffering of Koreans who were forced to work some of the facilities during World War II. Japan criticized this decision as unacceptable.

The dispute is one of many in which Japan has been embroiled with Asian neighbors in the forum on issues relating to the history of the war.

Motegi is the first member of the Japanese cabinet to travel abroad since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office on September 16 during the country’s first change of leadership in nearly eight years.

He will meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud on Saturday in Riyadh and travel to Kuwait to offer condolences on the death of Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah , died Tuesday at the age of 91, according to the ministry.



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