Tokyo: Japan and France are to work on the joint development of military hardware, the two countries' leaders said, as Tokyo looks to bolster alliances at a time of rising tensions in East Asia.
    
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Thursday that Tokyo and Paris had agreed to work together on promoting stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
    
"We agreed that Japan and France, which share common values, interests and responsibility will enhance our special partnership," Abe told reporters at a joint press conference with visiting French President Francois Hollande.
    
"We agreed on dialogue between foreign and defence officials and agreed on joint development of military equipment and control of exports."
    
Japan is locked in a corrosive squabble with China over the ownership of a small group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. It says a rising Beijing is throwing its weight around as its military might grows.
    
Earlier this year, Tokyo voiced unease at the sale by a French firm of helicopter landing equipment to China, saying it might be used by Beijing to strengthen its presence around the disputed islands.
    
Tokyo has embarked on something of a global charm offensive in recent months, hoping to elicit public declarations of support in its row with China, but most countries appear wary of upsetting Beijing.
    
"That Japan and France, which share basic values of freedom and stability which are common values, play a leading role is expected by the (rest of) the world," Abe said.

(Agencies)  

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