Japan and New Zealand have agreed to expand defense cooperation.

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TOKYO: Japan, New Zealand and the United States announced Thursday that they would be expanding defense and security cooperation. They also warned of regional challenges. This implicitly refers to Beijing.

The announcement was made after Fumio Kishida (Japan Prime Minister) met Jacinda Adern (New Zealand Prime Minister).

Both sides reiterated their common positions on a number of issues in a joint statement. These included shared opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as concerns about regional threats.

Kishida said to reporters, “Attempts at changing the status quo through force must not been tolerated,” after meeting with Ardern.

He stated that Japan and New Zealand strongly opposed such attempts in any zone, including the East- and South China Seas. But neither leader specifically named Beijing.

“We have had candid discussions on strengthening the strategic partner between our two countries, and have achieved concrete results,” Kishida stated. He announced the decision to “start negotiation on an agreement in security and defense fields.”

In a joint statement, the two sides warned of “growing challenges to the fundamental values ​​and principles shared by Japan and New Zealand”, reaffirming their commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The statement stated that the two countries would now work together to create “legal frameworks for mutual security of confidential information exchanged between their governments in order to facilitate more seamless sharing.”

Japan is not part the Five Eyes intelligence network, which includes New Zealand, Australia and the US.

It has not been able to support any other coalitions against China, such as a four-way alliance that includes Australia, India, and the United States. The next month will see Quad host a summit in Japan.

* This article originally appeared in Arab News Japan, click here to read.

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