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Japan PM seeks upgrade of NATO partnership after Russia's war

TOKYO, June 29 (KUNA) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday that Japan intends to upgrade its partnership with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) significantly after Russia's war against Ukraine as the security of Europe is inseparable from that of Asia, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported.
Kishida, who attended a two-day summit of NATO in Spain as the first Japanese leader to do so, also hailed the Western alliance's engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, according to the report.
NATO has invited to the gathering the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Kishida told the gathering that Japan is seeking to update its own partnership document with NATO to boost cooperation in such areas as cyber and maritime security.
Japan plans to bolster its defenses over the next five years and substantially increase defense spending to cope with growing security threats, including those caused by China and its opaque military buildup.
Kishida also said unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force continue in the East and South China seas, adding that he feels a "strong sense of crisis" regarding the likelihood of conflict similar to Ukraine's breaking out in East Asia.
"We must demonstrate unity so that such attempts will never succeed," he was quoted as saying.
NATO was created in 1949 by the US, Canada and several Western European nations to defend against the threat from the Soviet Union and its eastern European allies.
In terms of NATO's relations with the Asia-Pacific nations, the Brussels-based organization said in its communique released after its summit in June last year it plans to enhance "political dialogue and practical cooperation" with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
In April this year, the four countries participated in NATO's foreign ministerial meeting and they agreed to continue supporting Ukraine and to step up cooperation given the "global implications" of Russia's war on Ukraine.
Australia, Japan and South Korea are all US security allies. Australia and New Zealand are part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance that also involves Britain, Canada and the US, while Japan and Australia are members of the Quad group alongside the US and India. (end) mk.ibi