Advancing Technology and Democracy
The defense relationship between the United Kingdom and Japan is gaining momentum, with a shared focus on driving forward advanced technology and promoting freedom and democracy. In a recent meeting in Tokyo, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and his Japanese counterpart, Minister of Defense Minoru Kihara, discussed key initiatives to enhance cooperation between their nations.
Interoperability and Shared Security
The discussions centered on two major treaties aimed at increasing interoperability between the UK Armed Forces and Japanese Defence Forces. These agreements further cement their commitment to shared security.
Notably, these efforts build on the groundbreaking Reciprocal Access Agreement signed earlier this year, which facilitates joint operations and exercises, as well as ongoing work on the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).
UK and Japan: Strong Security Partnership
The UK and Japan have solidified their positions as each other’s closest security partners in Europe and Asia, respectively. UK Prime Minister Sunak and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida made a significant announcement during the G7 Summit earlier this summer, reaffirming this commitment to the Hiroshima Accord.
Strengthening International Relations
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps emphasized the increasing global tensions and instability, highlighting the need to strengthen relations with international partners and allies. He discussed the importance of deepening cooperation through these landmark treaties and reiterated their commitment to developing next-generation combat aircraft through GCAP.
Shapps also emphasized the UK and Japan’s united stance in supporting peace, stability, and the rules-based international order.
Diplomatic Engagements and Shared Security Interests
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly joined the diplomatic engagements in Japan, including a G7 meeting. Both UK ministers participated in a joint meeting with their Japanese counterparts, during which they discussed shared security interests. Topics included support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s illegal invasion and the condemnation of the Hamas attack against Israel.
Strengthening Indo-Pacific Commitment
The UK underscores its commitment to the Indo-Pacific region by being the sole European partner that conducts a bilateral exercise on Japanese soil. The upcoming Exercise Vigilant Isles 2023, with over 150 UK personnel deploying to Japan, further demonstrates this commitment in line with the refreshed Defence Command Paper.
Promoting Maritime Security
At sea, the Offshore Patrol Vessels, namely HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, have not only played a vital role but have also been instrumental in enabling the UK to work closely with Japan and regional partners to effectively promote maritime security.
The Future of Combat Air
Collaborative efforts between the UK, Japan, and Italy persist in advancing the development of GCAP. Moreover, this program is designed to futureproof the Combat Air sectors, fostering enhanced investments in people and technology.
Additionally, it is geared towards deepening the integration of supply chains and leveraging defense and security expertise from the three nations, ultimately strengthening the defense industrial base and securing high-skilled jobs.