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EU seeks defence industry partnerships with Japan, South Korea, says Nikkei

By Thomson Reuters Jun 23, 2024 | 5:13 AM

(Corrects to remove extraneous ‘the’ in paragraph 4)

TOKYO (Reuters) -The European Union is seeking security and defence 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 defence-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 year end, 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 defence industry in its largest postwar military expansion, expressing concern about threats from Asia neighbours China and North Korea.

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

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

Japan-U.S. discussions have so far focussed on naval repairs in Japan that could help free up U.S. 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 defence cooperation with the United States and the Philippines, and last week conducted a maritime exercise with the U.S., Canada and the Philippines in the South China Sea, where China’s expansive claims conflict with those of several other Asian nations.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami in Tokyo; Editing by William Mallard)