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EU seeks defense industry partnerships with Japan, South Korea: Nikkei

June 23, 2024 - 19:38 By Reuters
In this file photo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a press conference during an EU-Japan summit, in Brussels, Belgium on July 13, 2023. (Reuters-Yonhap)

TOKYO -- The European Union is seeking security and defense industry partnerships with Japan and South Korea aimed at joint development of military equipment, the Nikkei reported on Sunday, citing a senior EU commission official.

These would mark the EU's first such security and defense-related collaboration with Asian nations, the Japanese business newspaper said in a report from Brussels that did not identify the official.

The bloc hopes to reach a ministerial-level agreement with Japan by yearend, which could help the EU fund joint projects managed by Japanese and European companies, the Nikkei said.

Representatives of Japan's foreign ministry and the South Korean and EU delegations in Tokyo were not immediately available for comment on the report on Sunday.

Japan, despite a constitution that renounces war, says it faces "the most severe and complex security environment since World War Two." In recent years it has boosted its defense industry in its largest postwar military expansion, expressing concern about threats from Asia neighbors China and North Korea.

Tokyo signed a treaty last year to establish a program to develop an advanced fighter jet with Britain and Italy.

This month Japan started talks with the United States on forging deeper defense industry collaboration under the US-Japan Forum on Defense Industrial Cooperation, Acquisition and Sustainment, established in April by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Joe Biden.

Japan-US discussions have so far focussed on naval repairs in Japan that could help free up US yards to build more warships, but cooperation could be extended to aircraft repairs, missile production and military supply-chain resilience.

Tokyo seeks to counter China’s increasing maritime assertiveness and has expressed concerns over any potential instability in the Taiwan Strait.

It has sought deeper defense cooperation with the US and the Philippines, and last week conducted a maritime exercise with the US, Canada and the Philippines in the South China Sea, where China's expansive claims conflict with those of several other Asian nations. (Reuters)