NATO to open its 1st Asian office in Japan

In its outreach to Asia Pacific, NATO will open its first Asian office in Japan, a media report claimed on Wednesday.

The one-person liaison office in Tokyo, said Nikkei Asia in a report, “will allow the military alliance to conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners in the region, such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand as China emerges as a new challenge, alongside its traditional focus on Russia.”

It added that NATO has already “circulated a draft proposal among its 31 members” regarding the opening of the office which was “first” discussed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg when the latter visited Japan in January.

Tokyo and NATO are also working to upgrade their cooperation, aiming to sign an Individually Tailored Partnership Programme (ITPP) before the NATO Summit in Lithuania in July, the report added.

NATO has liaison offices at the UN in New York, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Vienna in Europe, Georgia, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, and Kuwait.

Japan is already part of the US-led Quad, a loose security alliance with Australia and India as other two members against China’s expanding economic and military influence in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

While the NATO chief advocated strengthening ties with the Asia-Pacific region, China has pushed back such attempts.

“China firmly opposes certain elements clamoring for NATO’s involvement in Asia-Pacific, or an Asia-Pacific version of NATO on the back of military alliances,” Beijing told the UN Security Council last June while discussing the Ukraine conflict.

China’s top diplomat Qin Gang said in March during his maiden news conference that the US “Indo-Pacific Strategy” is in fact an “attempt to gang up to form exclusive blocs, to provoke a confrontation by plotting an Asia-Pacific version of NATO.”

Last month, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg welcomed Japan’s decision to open a "dedicated diplomatic mission" to the military alliance.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Stoltenberg said that no other partner is "closer and more capable" than Japan.

"We welcome very much that you have decided to open a dedicated diplomatic mission to NATO," said Stoltenberg, praising the partnership between NATO and Japan.


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