UK and Japan set to agree ‘landmark’ new defence agreement

Boris Johnson said the Japanese prime minister’s visit will ‘accelerate our close defence relationship and build on our trade partnership’.

Ben Hatton
Wednesday 04 May 2022 22:38
<p>Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Boris Johnson</p>

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson will host the Japanese prime minister in London on Thursday as the two are set to agree a “landmark” new defence agreement.

Fumio Kishida’s first official visit at the invitation of the government is due to be marked with a guard of honour and an RAF flypast over central London.

Downing Street said the leaders are expected to agree in principle a “landmark” reciprocal access agreement (RAA), which would allow Japanese and British forces to deploy together to carry out training, joint exercises and disaster relief activities.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “As two great island democracies, and the third and fifth largest economies in the world, the UK and Japan are focused on driving growth, creating highly skilled jobs and ensuring we remain technology superpowers.

“The visit of prime minister Kishida will accelerate our close defence relationship and build on our trade partnership to boost major infrastructure projects across the country – supporting  our levelling up agenda.”

Talks began on deepening the UK-Japan defence relationship in September last year.

Downing Street said the agreement would boost the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific and further safeguard global peace and security, and build on the already close collaboration on defence and security technology between both nations.

It follows the government’s defence and foreign policy integrated review, published last year, which announced a “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific.

In September, Australia, the UK and the US signed up to the Aukus pact to develop nuclear-powered submarines for Canberra in a bid to increase joint naval activity in the region.

The government describes Japan as its closest security partner in Asia.

It says the island nation only has two other bilateral visiting forces agreements, one with the United States and the recently agreed RAA signed with Australia in January.

The two G7 leaders are also expected to discuss Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and how to exert pressure on President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Greg Clark (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Conservative former minister Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, is also set to be announced as the UK’s new trade envoy to Japan.

In addition, the two premiers are due to agree closer collaboration as part of the UK’s clean green initiative.

Downing Street said it would allow the UK and Japan to work together to support countries in Asia to develop renewables and help provide alternative supplies to Russian oil and gas.

Japan is chair of the UK accession working group to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The UK applied to join the free trade area in January last year.

The flypast is expected to take place at around 11.10am and include two Typhoon fighter jets and the RAF Voyager Vespina.

The RAF Voyager drew public attention in 2020 when it was resprayed with the colours of the Union Jack at a cost of nearly £1 million.

During the meeting at Downing Street, the two leaders are also expected to tuck into some food from the Fukushima region, including Japanese popcorn, which Downing Street said would be part of marking the lifting of remaining restrictions on food products from the Japanese region after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

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