U.K Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to sign a significant defence deal with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, during the latter’s visit to London.
PM Kishida‘s visit to London comes amid Japan’s Group of Seven (G7) presidency. He is expected to visit France, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the U.S., as the representatives of these countries are anticipated to attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima, from May 19th – 21st.
The reciprocal access defence agreement between the UK and Japan is to be ratified today, at the Tower of London, allowing the deployment of UK forces on Japanese land in the most significant defence agreement between the two countries in more than a century.
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U.K – Japan Defence Pact
Years of talks will culminate in a signing, which will rapidly accelerate the action of defence and security cooperation and allow both nations to deploy forces in each other’s countries. It will strengthen UK’s commitment to Indo – pacific security, allowing them to strategise and deliver large-scale, more complex military exercises.
Incidentally, the UK will be the 1st European country to have a Reciprocal Access agreement with Japan, the most critical defence treaty between the UK and Japan since 1902. The defence treaties will be up for discussion before UK Parliament and Japan’s Diet in the weeks ahead.
The China challenge
The move comes as the UK government seeks to increase its engagement in the Asia – Pacific region to counter the influence of China. As the world has taken an Indo – pacific tilt in its foreign policies, this move comes amid china’s increasing presence in the Indo- pacific region. China is viewed as the greatest strategic challenge ever to securing the peace and stability of Japan, as well as a serious concern for Japan and the international community. In response, the Japanese government plans to increase its defence spending to 2% of its GDP by 2027. It is known for being a critic of China’s expansionist policy.
“ This Reciprocal Access Agreement is hugely significant for both our nations – it cements our commitment to the Indo – Pacific,” Sunka said ahead of the signing.
U.K – Japan relations
In the recent past, the UK and Japan collaborated with other parties. A few weeks ago they teamed up with Italy, to develop the next generation of combat air fighter jets under the new Global Combat Air Programme. Last Month, the UK and Japan also launched a new UK – Japan digital partnership to strengthen cooperation across cyber resilience, online safety and semiconductors.
Other items on the Agenda
Besides, the defence and security challenge the leaders are expected to discuss trade, including the UK’s accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade bloc that includes Japan, Canada, Mexico and Chile.
The leaders will also discuss Ukraine – Russia conflict, which is nearing its first anniversary and the UK’s support for Prime Minister Kishida’s focus on economic security, including supply chain resilience. They are also to discuss Japan’s presidency of the G7 and how to collectively garner support for Ukraine.
While at the Tower of London today, the leaders will also visit Japanese armour on display, which was presented to King James VI and I in 1613 by the then Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada of Japan. The military gift was given to King James to mark the first-ever trade agreement between England and Japan.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will host the UK-Japan 21st Century Group at Downing Street on Thursday. The coalition of British and Japanese private sector, public sector, and civil society leaders aims to promote dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.