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Home News To strengthen ties in the Asia-Pacific, NATO plans to open an office in Japan, according to a report from The Guardian.
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To strengthen ties in the Asia-Pacific, NATO plans to open an office in Japan, according to a report from The Guardian.

Photo by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash

Nato is reportedly planning to open a liaison office in Japan to coordinate with close partners across the Indo-Pacific region including Australia, South Korea and New Zealand.

The plans are likely to attract criticism from the Chinese government, which has previously warned the western alliance against extending “its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific”.

Nikkei Asia reported on Wednesday that Nato and Japan plan to upgrade their cooperation on tackling cyber threats, disinformation and emerging and disruptive technologies.

Nato’s planned new liaison office in Tokyo – to open next year – will be the first of its kind in Asia and will allow the military alliance to conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners such as Australia, according to Nikkei Asia.

The publication said the plans were confirmed by Japanese and Nato officials.

A spokesperson for Nato, Oana Lungescu, declined to give details of the “ongoing deliberations” when contacted by the Guardian on Wednesday.

But Lungescu said liaison arrangements were regularly reviewed “to ensure that they best serve the needs of both Nato and our partners”.

“As the secretary general said in Tokyo in February, among Nato’s partners, none is closer or more capable than Japan”.

She added: “We share the same values, interests and concerns, including supporting Ukraine and addressing the security challenges posed by authoritarian regimes, and our partnership is getting stronger.

In its “strategic concept”, unveiled last year, Nato argued that China posed “systemic challenges” to Euro-Atlantic security even though Russia remained “the most significant and direct threat to allies’ security”.

Nato vowed to “strengthen dialogue and cooperation with new and existing partners in the Indo-Pacific to tackle cross-regional challenges and shared security interests”.

Nato accused China of carrying out “malicious hybrid and cyber operations” and “remaining opaque about its strategy, intentions and military build-up”.

China responded to the Nato assessment by urging the alliance “stop provoking confrontation by drawing ideological lines”.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said last year that Nato had “extended its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific and sought to export the cold war mentality and replicate bloc confrontation”.

Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, attended the Nato summit in Madrid last year. The leaders of the Asia Pacific Partners (AP4) grouping – Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand – met on the sidelines.

Albanese has accepted an invitation to travel to the next Nato summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

“Australia shares with Nato members a commitment to supporting democracy, peace, and security and upholding the rule of law,” a spokesperson for Albanese said last month.

The Danish ambassador to Japan, Peter Taksoe-Jensen, told Nikkei Asia concerns about China’s impact on trans-European security meant it was “important for Nato to keep up relations with our partners in this region”.

He said the proposed new Nato liaison office “would be a very visible, real way to strengthen the relations between Japan and Nato”.

Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, who will host the G7 summit in Hiroshima this month, has said he views the security environment within east Asia with a “strong sense of crisis”.

In a reference to concerns about China’s intentions towards self-governed Taiwan, Kishida has repeatedly argued that “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow”.

After the G7 summit – which Albanese has been invited to attend – Kishida will travel to Sydney for the Quad leaders’ summit.

Albanese will host Kishida, US president Joe Biden and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for the talks at the Sydney Opera House on 24 May.

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