Japan, Italy boost military cooperation as Europe expands

Japan, Italy boost military cooperation as Europe expands

Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini, left, and his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi pose at the start of the Japan-Italy bilateral defense meeting at the Japanese Ministry of Defense on April 12, 2022 in Tokyo. Pool Photo via AP Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said he and his Italian counterpart agreed Tuesday to step up military cooperation as Japan expands security ties with Europe amid concerns about Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its impact on Asia.

Kishi told reporters that he and Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini discussed the possibility of an expansion of joint military drills and the development of defense technology.

Guerini, visiting Tokyo, expressed interest in possible Italian participation in Japan's F-X next generation fighter jet, Kishi said. It would be Japan's first domestically developed fighter jet in 40 years.

Japan and Britain have agreed to develop a future demonstration fighter jet engine and to explore other combat air technologies and subsystems. The project comprises Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI in Japan and Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems in the U.K.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia undermines the foundation of international order, not only in Europe but also in Asia, and is absolutely impermissible, according to the two ministers. Kishi said that we agreed on the importance of countries that share fundamental values, such as Japan and Italy, to stick together and act resolutely.

Kishi said Japan strongly regards Italy's involvement in the Indo-Pacific, where China s increasingly assertive military activity has raised tensions.

Japan has strengthened security talks and joint drills with the U.S. and other partners in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe that share its concerns about China s assertion of its territorial claims in the region, which has some of the world's busiest sea lanes.

Japan is not a NATO member but has strengthened its partnership with the group. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi was sent to the NATO foreign ministers meeting earlier this month to discuss Ukraine.

Japan is particularly concerned about Chinese military and coast guard activity in the East China Sea near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu.

For decades, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have been locked in a tense territorial standoff in the South China Sea.