France is against the opening of a NATO liaison office in Japan and insists that NATO is “geographically confined” to the North Atlantic.
For months, NATO officials have been discussing plans to open a liaison office in Japan, which would represent the allies’ first outpost in the region at a time of growing tension between the West and China.
Next week’s annual leaders’ summit in Lithuania — taking place against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine — was earmarked as a moment for making progress on the plan.
But French President Emmanuel Macron has put his foot down, insisting such geographical expansion would risk shifting the alliance’s remit too far from its original North Atlantic focus, Politico said.
“We are not in favor as a matter of principle,” an Elysée Palace official told reporters on Friday. “As far as the office is concerned, the Japanese authorities themselves have told us that they are not extremely attached to it.”
The French official insisted that NATO is geographically confined to the North Atlantic. “NATO means North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” the official said, adding that Articles 5 and 6, clauses at the heart of the alliance, are “geographic.”
The news outlet reports that the plan by NATO to open its first Asian office comes amid heightened concern over China’s aggressive maritime and air behavior toward Taiwan and U.S. troops in the region. Like France, China is also opposed to the idea.
“While some other NATO allies are also said to have concerns over the new office, three European diplomats with knowledge of the ongoing negotiations acknowledge that the strongest opposition comes from France,” the report said.