TOKYO -- Japan and Canada agreed to formally start talks toward signing a military intelligence information sharing accord as their foreign ministers on Tuesday adopted an action plan to strengthen cooperation on defense, economic security and other areas amid growing threats from China and Russia.
The launch of formal talks on the intelligence-sharing pact, or General Security of Information Agreement, is part of an action plan announced by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his Canadian counterpart, Melanie Joly, after their talks in Tokyo.
The two sides aim to reach an agreement “as soon as possible” to facilitate information sharing and further strengthen cooperation between their militaries, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Japan has been deepening defense cooperation beyond its key ally, the United States, in recent years in the face of China's increasing assertiveness in the region, as well as growing concern that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could further embolden Beijing.
Japan has similar intelligence-sharing agreements with eight countries, including the United States, Australia, Britain, India, South Korea, as well as NATO.
On Tuesday, Japan and Canada also agreed to expand and deepen their military ties by holding joint exercises between the countries as well as with the United States.
They stressed the importance of working together to secure the rules-based international order and pledged to achieve a “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision, which Japan has been promoting with the United States and other democracies that share concerns about China's growing influence in the region.
Joly said Canada's developing Indo-Pacific strategy “will aim to complement efforts made by like-minded partners, including Japan's vision."
Resource-scarce Japan also is seeking to further cooperate with Canada to secure supplies of liquefied natural gas. Japan and Canada agreed to strengthen technical exchanges on nuclear technology, including those concerning small modular reactors that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has ordered a government panel to consider as a possible option for future development.
Energy supply shortages and rising utility cost, as well as pressure to meet the 2050 carbon neutrality goal has prompted Kishida's government to place further emphasis on atomic energy years after many of Japanese nuclear plants were shut down after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.