France has expressed its opposition to a proposal by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to open a liaison office in Japan, saying that the alliance should remain focused on its own region.
According to French diplomatic sources, France does not support the idea of NATO expanding its presence in Asia, as the organization’s statutes limit its scope to the North Atlantic area. French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly personally objected to the plan, calling it a “big mistake”.
The proposal for a NATO office in Tokyo was first reported last month and was confirmed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He said that NATO needed to step up its relationship with its Indo-Pacific partners, especially in light of the growing challenge posed by China and Russia.
China has reacted angrily to the proposal, accusing NATO of interfering in regional affairs and inciting bloc confrontation. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Asia lies beyond the geographical scope of the North Atlantic and that NATO should respect the security interests of countries in the region.
Japan’s top government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno declined to comment on Macron’s remarks, saying only that “various considerations” were underway inside NATO. Opening an office in Japan would require the unanimous approval of the North Atlantic Council, where France could use its veto to scupper the plan.