The Japanese and British governments have begun final coordination to hold a two-plus-two meeting of their foreign and defense ministers in London on Dec. 13-14. The Japanese government plans to seek cooperation from the UK, which shares such common values as the rule of law at sea, on the “strategy for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” which was adopted as a common diplomatic strategy of Japan and the U.S. at the bilateral summit on Nov. 6.
This was revealed by several Japanese government sources. The main topic on the agenda is strengthening cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the British armed forces. Another major item is maritime cooperation. Japan will urge Britain to be involved in security in the Asia-Pacific and aim at building stronger bonds as “quasi-allies.”
Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will visit London on Dec. 13 to discuss the maintenance of regional maritime order and concrete steps for cooperation between the SDF and the British military at meetings with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Defense Minister Gavin Williamson.
Japan and the UK conducted their first-ever joint exercises in Japan by the Air SDF and the Royal Air Force at the Misawa base (in Aomori Prefecture) last year. They have also agreed to conduct the first joint exercises by the Ground SDF and the British army in late 2018. The first joint exercises by the Maritime SDF and the Royal Navy, as well as plans for multilateral naval exercises led by the two countries will also be discussed at the upcoming talks.
The two sides will also confirm progress made in joint development of the successor to the Air SDF’s F-2 fighters and next-generation missiles for fighters. A senior Japanese Defense Ministry official expresses hope that this will “lead to full-fledged joint development” with Britain, which has advanced defense technology. (Slightly abridged)