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France and Japan sign arms pact

The two allies have sealed closer security ties during a meeting of defense and foreign ministers in Tokyo. Japan is slowly re-militarizing after decades of pacifist policies resulting from its role in World War II.

France and Japan signed a deal on military gear and technology transfers on Friday in a move to push joint development of defense equipment as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cements security ties with major powers while his neighbors intensify their military presence in the region.

Japan, at odds with China over

territorial issues

, has signed similar deals with the UK and Australia over the last two years, while also rolling back its long-held pacifist policies such as a ban on its military fighting abroad and restrictions on weapons exports.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian cited drones as possible candidate for their joint equipment development.

"France and Japan have a lot in common. We are both maritime nations, and we have high-tech companies in this field. Together, we can find a win-win solution," Le Drian said during a Tokyo news conference.

The Japanese foreign minister was also positive about the meeting: "It's a major achievement that we've agreed on specific plans of cooperation," said Fumio Kishida.

Japan and France also agreed to work toward finishing an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA), which provides a framework for logistical cooperation between militaries. Japan already has such deals with the United States and Australia. The two nations also agreed to step-up their broader anti-terrorism efforts.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also in Tokyo earlier this week for talks on a free-trade agreement between Germany and Japan. The chancellor drew the ire of Foreign Minister Kishida however, when

she suggested Japan confront its wartime past

in the same way Germany has. Kishida called the comparison "inappropriate."

es/msh (AP, Reuters)

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