US, Japanese, and French forces will begin a weeklong large-scale joint military drill in Japan’s Southwest today. Today’s war games
US, Japanese, and French forces will begin a weeklong large-scale joint military drill in Japan’s Southwest today.
Today’s war games involve troops from all three countries participating in integrated exercises for the first time. Unlike previous military drills, the inclusion of French troops signifies a dramatic turning point for Paris’ ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.
France’s Indo-Pacific territories comprise 1.6 million French citizens, 11 million square kilometers of exclusive economic zone and maintain a presence of 7,000 troops. In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated that Paris would place Indo-Pacific strategy at the core of its foreign policy as a way to protect its global interests. Paris sees itself as a “mediating, inclusive and stabilizing power” in the Pacific, serving as a foil to Beijing’s expansionary ambitions and Washington’s brash approach towards China.
Despite China being an important economic partner, these exercises are a clear message that Paris will not tolerate any actions which threaten the status quo. As a large British fleet prepares to sail to the Indo-Pacific later this month, expect more drills as Europe seeks to mediate China’s ambitions and maintain its geopolitical relevance in the region.