France, India, Japan trilateral workshop on the Indo-Pacific
On January 19, 2021, the Observer Research Foundation held the very first India-Japan-France workshop on the Indo-Pacific. Organised jointly by the three countries, the workshop aimed to explore new opportunities for trilateral collaboration, especially in the context of maritime security and digital connectivity.
The workshop was opened by Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringla, Ambassador of Japan to India, H.E. Satoshi Suzuki, Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Emmanuel Lenain, and ORF President Samir Saran.
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France is an Indo-Pacific power thanks to its territories in the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Indian Ocean, with its 1.6 million inhabitants and 8000 military personnel based in the region. As early as 2018, France published an Indo-Pacific strategy whose main objective was to promote a rules-based, multilateral regional order, free of any hegemony, in keeping with our values. French President E. Macron elaborated our Indo-Pacific strategy in his speech in Garden Island, Australia, in 2018.
Our strategy is cooperative, and we wish to work on key issues with our foremost Asian partners, India and Japan, as well as any other country willing to join us, like Australia.
We have seen a rapid change in the balance of power, including unilateral policies by some countries. The COVID-19 crisis has been a great accelerator of both opportunities and risks. All this creates uncertainties and triggers the risk of non-cooperative policies.
In this context, India, Japan and France stand as factors of stability and progress. We share democratic values: rule of law, human dignity, freedom of speech. We are attached to international public law and multilateralism. In this regard, France supports India and Japan in their aspiration to become permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Given these shared values and interests, the trust among the governments of India, Japan and France is unique.
We are building piece by piece a strategic triangle between Paris, Tokyo and Delhi committed to a rules-based Indo-Pacific order. We should now explore synergies among us.
Today, our workshop will focus on two key issues.
One is maritime security.
How to address unilateral, non-cooperative policies?
What do we need to ensure maritime domain awareness and monitor our exclusive economic zones?
How to coordinate our naval assets and enhance our interoperability?
How to support regional organizations like ASEAN and IORA?
The second is digital connectivity. It affects our sovereignty and democratic societies.
Our countries should help develop a digital public order.
We also need to cooperate on data protection, and find the right balance between security and privacy, in keeping with our values. The European Union, which has a convergent framework with Japan on data protection, has experience to share.
Our countries can also coordinate further at the UN or within the framework of the G20.