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Japan, UK to discuss security ties at G7 sidelines

TOKYO (AP) – Japanese and British foreign and defence 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 UK so far, making them semi-allies.

The talks in Tokyo among Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defence Minister Minoru Kihara and Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defence 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 defence — including counterstrike capability — in a major shift from the country’s self-defence-only principle adopted after the last world war, citing growing threats in the region, including from China.

While strengthening military ties with longtime US 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.

Britain’s Defence Minister Grant Shapps (second left) speaks to Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara during a bilateral meeting at the defence ministry on Tuesday in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP