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Friday, March 13, 2015, 21:47

Japan signs arms deal with France

By Associated Press
Japan signs arms deal with France
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, left, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, second left, join hands with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, seond right, and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani at the end of their joint press conference after a Japan-France two-plus-two meeting in Tokyo, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara,pool)

TOKYO - Japan and France signed an arms transfer agreement Friday, paving the way for developing drones and other unmanned equipment together as Japan seeks to play a greater military role internationally.

In the talks on diplomacy and national security, the two countries' foreign and defense ministers reached an agreement aimed at exchanges of defense equipment, services and technology and start talks on specific projects. The ministers signed the agreement at a joint news conference following the talks.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is preparing to make legal changes to accommodate plans to bolster Japan's defense role, allowing it to defend a foreign country under attack.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian cited drones as a possible candidate for their joint equipment development.

"France and Japan have a lot in common. We are both maritime nations, and we have high-tech companies. Together, we can make a win-win situation," he said at the news conference in Tokyo, through an interpreter.

Japan has signed similar arms equipment and technology transfer agreements with the US, Britain and Australia.

Japanese officials have said that Japan is seeking to start discussing a possible joint research and development in unmanned systems such as drones.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida represented Japan for talks with their French counterparts, Drian and Laurent Fabius.

Japan and France also agreed to step up their broader military cooperation and anti-terrorism effort.

Japan last year revised its defense guidelines to bolster its military role and also eased its self-imposed ban on arms equipment and technology transfer.

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