The Friday editions of all national papers reported from London that Prime Minister Kishida and his British counterpart Johnson held a summit meeting on Thursday and reached a rough consensus on a reciprocal access agreement (RAA) for their two militaries. They also affirmed greater coordination to help Ukraine push back Russian forces through stepping up sanctions on Moscow. The two premiers agreed to oppose any unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force in Europe or elsewhere. Johnson disclosed a plan to end in June the ban on food imports from Fukushima and other neighboring prefectures.
Yomiuri wrote that the RAA signifies the deepening of bilateral security coordination, noting that the UK will be the second country after Australia with which Japan has concluded a visiting forces agreement. Sankei noted that the UK government rolled out the “red carpet” for the Japanese leader, speculating that Britain is keen to step up its security and economic partnership with Japan because among the European G7 members it is the nation “most keenly aware” of the threat posed by China, in the words of an unnamed senior Japanese diplomat. The daily added that some Japanese officials now regard the UK as a “more reliable” partner than India for creating a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Meanwhile, Yomiuri front-paged its interview with Prime Minister Johnson on Thursday conducted ahead of his summit with Prime Minister Kishida. The British politician underscored London’s plan to expand its security partnership with Tokyo by saying the security of Europe and East Asia is “inseparable.” He vowed to make Putin’s war in Ukraine a failure to avoid giving autocracies license to invade their neighbors. The British leader praised Kishida for responding resolutely to Russia’s “oppression and aggression.” He also raised concern about China’s maritime push by pointing out the “direct relevance between what is happening in Ukraine and what could occur in Taiwan and the South China Sea.” Johnson also promised to step up his country’s economic and security engagement with the Indo-Pacific region.