All national papers reported that the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the UK held a videoconference last night and agreed to strengthen security and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. China loomed large in the first bilateral 2+2 conference in three years, with the participants sharing “strong” or “grave” concern about unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force in the South and East China Seas,
the recent enactment of China’s coast guard law, the situation in Hong Kong, and human rights violations in Xinjiang Province. They affirmed mutual coordination for promoting the free and open Indo-Pacific initiative, agreeing that their navies will hold a joint drill when the HMS Queen Elizabeth visits Japan later this year on its Asian cruise. The Japanese side welcomed the deployment of the aircraft carrier as representing London’s additional commitment to the Indo-Pacific region. Yomiuri projected that the U.S. military may join the planned Japan-UK training. “Bilateral relations are now more important than ever to defend the order based on international law, maritime security, and freedom of navigation,” UK Foreign Secretary Raab was quoted as saying. The papers speculated that London is eager to deepen cooperative relations with countries outside Europe following Brexit.