NATO will push back a decision to open a liaison office in Japan to this fall or later due to French objections to the plans, Nikkei Asia reported on Monday.
The alliance wanted to formally enshrine the Japan office in NATO documents at the two-day summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, that starts Tuesday. But all 31 NATO members need to agree, forcing the alliance to shelve the move.
France’s position is that the NATO alliance should stay in the North Atlantic, something French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed publicly. France is also looking to maintain good relations with China and has tried to distance itself from the US’s bellicosity toward Beijing.
The proposal to open an office in Japan was led by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. NATO is looking to boost ties in the Asia Pacific as it has named China a “systemic challenge” to the alliance in its Strategic Concept document that was issued last year.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol are attending the summit in Lithuania this week. It marks the second year in a row that the leaders of Japan and South Korea will be present at a meeting of NATO leaders.