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International relations

Suga and Macron vow to cooperate in the Indo-Pacific

Joint statement refers to Hong Kong and Xinjiang as 'serious concerns'

The meeting of Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron was their second face-to-face summit, after the G7 gathering in June in the U.K. (Reuters)

TOKYO -- Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to strengthen security ties to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific region, when the two leaders met in Tokyo on Saturday.

The two leaders held a 15-minute conference, followed by a one-on-one lunch meeting that lasted about 80 minutes. The occasion was their second face-to-face summit after the G7 summit in June in the U.K.

The joint statement released after the meetings refers to human rights infringements by the Chinese government in Hong Kong and Xinjiang as "serious concerns."

The statement also said that the two countries would push for maritime security and infrastructure development in coastal countries in the Indo-Pacific region, in accordance with the roadmap on Japan-France cooperation agreed on in 2019.

"I'm happy that there is concrete cooperation in progress between Japan and France for a free and open Indo-Pacific," Suga said. Macron, who visited Japan to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday, said he hoped to work closely with Japan in the region, which includes French territories.

In May, France's "Jeanne d'Arc" training squadron stopped in Japan. The French Army also joined the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marine Corps for remote island defense training on Japan's Kyushu island.

The joint statement also said the countries would "strengthen dialogue by making children's interests the highest priority."

In Japan, custody of a child is given to one of the parents after a divorce. In France, where joint custody is the norm, Japanese regulation is criticized for allowing a Japanese parent to take the child after ending an international marriage.

Macron also praised Friday's opening ceremony. "I strongly believe in the success of the Tokyo Games," he said. France will host the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

On the novel coronavirus measures, the two leaders agreed on the importance of securing vaccines fairly. They also shared hopes for resuming movements across borders

Prime Minister Suga also met with other global leaders, including Poland's President Andrzej Duda and Armenia's President Armen Sargsyan on Saturday.

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