March 13, 2015 / 2:53 PM / in 3 years

Japan, France sign defense pact to spur cooperation, joint development

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and France signed a deal on military equipment and technology transfers on Friday, in a move to drive cooperation and joint development of defense gear, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strengthens security ties with major powers.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (2nd L) and their Japanese counterparts Gen Nakatani (R) and Fumio Kishida (2nd R) shake hands during a two-plus-two meeting at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Koji Sasahara/Pool

Japan, at odds with China on territorial and other issues, has reached similar deals with Britain and Australia over the past two years, while ending a ban on its military fighting abroad and easing restrictions on weapons exports.

The agreement encourages bilateral defense cooperation by ensuring that transferred technology and equipment will not be provided to a third country without the consent of the country of origin.

“I think we’ve managed to bring our bilateral security and defense cooperation one step forward ... It is a major achievement that we’ve agreed on specific plans of cooperation,” Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said.

Kishida was speaking at a Tokyo news conference after a joint meeting of Japanese and French foreign and defense ministers.

Potential items of cooperation include unmanned gear for mine removal, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

“Both France and Japan have high-tech companies in this field. If we work together, we can find a win-win solution,” he said.

Japan and France also agreed to work toward concluding an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA), which provides a framework for logistic cooperation between armed forces. Japan already has ACSAs with the United States and Australia.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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