Japan and UK ministers are to discuss further deepening of security ties on the sidelines of G7

By Isaac M November 7, 2023

Japanese and British foreign and defense ministers are to talk Tuesday about deepening their military cooperation under a new security pact that allows their militaries to enter each other’s turf for joint exercises.

Japan and Britain have expanded their cooperation in recent years amid concern about China’s growing influence. Japan, whose only treaty ally is the United States, has signed the Reciprocal Access Agreement with Australia and the U.K. so far, making them semi-allies.

The talks in Tokyo among Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defense Secretary Grant Shapps are the first since the RAA took effect in mid-October.

They are meeting on the sidelines of the meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced nations Tuesday and Wednesday that are expected to focus on the Israel-Hamas war, the Russia-Ukraine war and tension in the Indo-Pacific region.

The four ministers’ discussions on Japan-UK security ties are likely to include expanding joint exercises and cooperation in new areas such as space and cybersecurity, based on the Japan-UK Hiroshima Accord reached between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in May.

Kishida’s government in December announced Japan’s new mid- to long-term security strategy to build up its security and defense — including counterstrike capability — in a major shift from the country’s self-defense-only principle adopted after the last world war, citing growing threats in the region, including from China.

While strengthening military ties with longtime U.S. allies, Japan is rapidly developing ties with the Philippines to reinforce deterrence against China as it escalates tension in the Taiwan Strait.

In their talks last week in Manila, Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. agreed to start negotiations for a RAA, and announced that coastal surveillance radar would be provided to the Philippine navy under a new security grant program Japan aims to help strengthen the militaries of friendly countries.

Japan has had a longstanding territorial dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea.

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