Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Japan, NATO agree to work closer, sign partnership program

Japan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreed Tuesday in Brussels to work more closely and extensively in areas such as maritime security and cyber defense and humanitarian operations.

After their talks at the NATO headquarters, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen signed a roadmap, called the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program, detailing areas of focus for bilateral cooperation.

At a joint press conference following their meeting, Abe said, "With security in Asia and Europe closely intertwined, we have shared the recognition that cooperation is important for Japan and NATO, which uphold common basic values such as rule of law."

In reference to Ukraine, Rasmussen said, "Today we are facing the gravest crisis to European security since the end of the Cold War." He added, "In this time of crisis, our dialogue with like-minded partners like Japan is key to address global security challenges."

During their meeting, Abe touched on Japan-China relations and was quoted as saying that Japan "always keeps its doors for dialogue open" for China. A Japanese official said Abe cited a recent meeting in Beijing of Japanese lawmakers with top Chinese officials.

Rasmussen noted the importance of dialogue in his talks with Abe, the official told reporters.

The two leaders also shared concern about North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, the official said.

In line with the IPCP roadmap, Japan and NATO are expected to have their forces share information and conduct joint drills for antipiracy operations off the coast of eastern Somalia.

Exchanges of personnel between NATO forces and Japan's Self-Defense Forces will also be promoted through such measures as training of SDF officers at the NATO Defense College.

The two parties will also have their cyber defense units work more closely and share Japan's experiences on humanitarian assistance and disaster rescue operations learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Japan will also take part in NATO-sponsored lectures and seminars.

As part of its efforts to empower women, Japan will also send female government employees to the NATO headquarters and seek NATO's cooperation when it stages a symposium on women in Japan.

Apart from Japan, NATO has signed IPCP with South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Mongolia.

==Kyodo

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