NATO is planning to open a liaison office in Japan next year, the alliance’s first in Asia, Nikkei Asia reported Wednesday.
In recent years, NATO has turned its gaze toward the Asia Pacific region and named China a “systemic challenge” in its 2022 Strategic Concept. As part of its strategy against China, the alliance is deepening cooperation with countries in the region.
According to Nikkei, the purpose of the liaison office in Japan is to “allow the military alliance to conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners in the region, such as South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand as China emerges as a new challenge, alongside its traditional focus on Russia.”
The report said NATO and Japan will take more steps to increase cooperation by signing an agreement known as an Individually Tailored Partnership Programme ahead of the NATO summit that will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, in June. Japan also plans to open an independent mission to NATO, separate from the Embassy in Belgium.
In response to the news, China warned of NATO’s plans to expand into Asia. “Asia is an anchor for peace and stability and a promising land for cooperation and development, not a wrestling ground for geopolitical competition,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning.
“NATO’s continued eastward foray into the Asia Pacific and interference in regional affairs will inevitably undermine regional peace and stability and stoke camp confrontation. This calls for high vigilance among regional countries,” she added.