Driving forward advanced technology and cooperating closely to promote freedom and democracy is at the heart of the defence relationship between the UK and Japan, which Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has hailed today in a meeting with his counterpart in Tokyo.
The Defence Secretary met his counterpart, Minister of Defense Minoru Kihara, for a series of meetings to further progress on two major treaties which will increase interoperability between the UK Armed Forces and Japan Self Defence Forces and cement our commitment to shared security.
It follows the signing and implementation of the ground-breaking Reciprocal Access Agreement by the Prime Minister earlier this year, which will underpin our shared defence activity by enabling the UK and Japan to operate and exercise together more easily, as well as continued work on developing a framework agreement for the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).
The UK and Japan are each other’s closest security partner in Europe and Asia respectively, a commitment reaffirmed in the Hiroshima Accord announced by PM Sunak and PM Kishida on the margins of the G7 Summit this summer.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:
Amid increasing tension and instability across the world – it is more clear than ever that the threats we face are global, and it’s particularly important we strengthen our relations with our international partners and allies.
In my meetings with Minister Kihara, we discussed how to further deepen our cooperation through these two landmark treaties and reaffirmed our commitment to building a truly next-generation combat aircraft through GCAP.
Despite the distance between us, the UK and Japan stand closer together than ever before in support of peace, stability, and the rules-based international order.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has also been in Japan for a meeting of the G7 and both UK ministers joined their Japanese counterparts for a combined meeting, during which shared security interests such as support for Ukraine in its defence against Putin’s illegal invasion and condemnation of the Hamas attack against Israel, were discussed.
The UK remains the only European partner to have a bilateral exercise on Japanese soil, and the Army and Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) are currently planning Exercise Vigilant Isles 2023, which will see more than 150 UK personnel deploy to Japan this month – further demonstrating the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, as set out through this year’s refreshed Defence Command Paper.
At sea, persistently deployed Offshore Patrol Vessels HMS Tamar and HMS Spey have enabled the UK to operate closely with Japan and regional partners to promote maritime security.
Work between the UK, Japan, and Italy continues on developing GCAP, which will futureproof our Combat Air sectors and deliver enhanced investment in our people and technology, deepening integration of supply chains. It will bring together defence and security expertise from across our three nations to strengthen our defence industrial base and secure high skilled jobs.