UK Royal Marines join Japan Self Defence Forces for Amphibious exercise.

RoyalClick on Photo for original article (National Interest)

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“Britain, Japan and the future of Asia-Pacific security” – October 23, 2018 GraSPP Research Seminar, Dr. David Ellis & Mr. James Hardy

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Date: Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Time: 12:20-13:50
Speakers: Dr. David Ellis, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Tokyo
Mr. James Hardy, Senior Research Analyst, Japan and East Asia, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom

Venue: SMBC Academia Hall, 4F, International Academic Research Building, University of Tokyo (map https://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/content/400020145.pdf)
Capacity: 80 person
Registration: Needed. Please register from here.

Abstract:

The Asia-Pacific region is increasingly viewed by the West as the next inevitable power-house, both in terms of military/security issues and economic prosperity. This seminar provides perspectives on current and emerging trends in UK-Japan relations and how the two countries view the future of Asia-Pacific security. The view of a practitioner at the British Embassy Tokyo is presented in combination with a macro-level analysis of regional trends from a UK perspective at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

Biography:

Dr Ellis took on the role of Minister and Deputy Head of Mission on 1 August 2016. He is responsible for advancing UK-Japan relations on political and security issues. He also oversees the consular and visa operations as well the Embassy’s corporate operations.
2011 – 2015 Minister-Counsellor (Political), British Embassy Beijing. Responsibilities included leading political teams covering Chinese domestic politics, human rights, and foreign and security policy.
(For more information, please check his biography page)

Mr. James Hardy is the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s senior research analyst on Japan and east Asian security affairs. Mr. Hardy focuses on regional security issues and arrangements, alliance networks, and military capabilities; he is also particularly interested in Japan’s evolving security and defence policies and its domestic political arrangements. Before joining the FCO, he worked as Asia-Pacific Editor for Jane’s Defence Weekly, and was a staff writer for The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo.

Inquiries to: graspp_eventinfo[at]pp.u-tokyo.ac.jp

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Japan has a strategic perspective beyond Brexit

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PHOTO: A ceremony aboard the Japanese Battle Ship Mikasa, in February 2015, recognising British and Japanese cooperation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. US Navy via Wikimedia Commons

According to a recent article by Tomohiko Taniguchi, (advisor to PM Shinzo Abe) entitled

“Brexit: The view from Japan (or the ‘Tokyo Consensus’)”

following the Brexit referendum:

a new consensus has emerged amongst Tokyo-based policymakers, such as members of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and those close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, myself included. Call it the ‘Tokyo Consensus’. It assumes that, as far as Japan’s national interest is concerned, Brexit may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The benefits of Brexit for Japan, which are largely geopolitical, could offset its costs, which are mostly economic.

Furthermore

This assumption appears to be shared internationally. Conversations with diplomats and visitors from Australia, New Zealand, India and the US, amongst others, have given me a sense that the ‘Tokyo Consensus’ may have a wider, Indo-Pacific, application…It is as though the UK and Japan are meeting one another again and finding a common ground to strengthen their respective international standings. Brexit was a catalyst, and could further accelerate this development.

But then Taniguchi-san puts his finger on the key issue:

Whether Britain will be sufficiently bold and innovative to turn Brexit into a geopolitical advantage is the question.

Yes, we can.

 

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Japan, U.K. to jointly surveil N. Korea under UN command framework.

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In the latest move to operationalize the Anglo-Japan Alliance, the Yomiuri English Language site (Japan News) reports :

Japan and Britain are making arrangements to hold joint surveillance activities between November and December to look out for illegal ship-to-ship transfers by North Korea

The joint operation will be conducted within the framework of the UN command, rear (in Japan), which has remained active since the armistice of the Korean war in 1953.

The surveillance will be conducted by Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll, the third UK Warship to sail in the region and visit Japan this year.

 

 

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UK and Japan discuss cooperation on next ‘optionally manned’ 6th Generation Aircraft

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The discussion about what ‘Global Britain’ means and whether the UK will remain a ‘tier one’ military power have a new data point to factor in as plans for a next generation combat aircraft “Tempest” come to light. In the need to look beyond the era of the Eurofighter, could the UK and Japan cement their quasi alliance with joint development of a 6th generation combat aircraft?

The UK and Japan have several defence interests in common, including the need to remain top tier and inter-operable allies with the United States while being prepared to defend their interests independently. In addition, both are endowed with cutting edge technological skill levels, but draw on a smaller population base for military service. In air war, no matter how many planes you can build you still have to train enough pilots to fly them. When it comes to modern aircraft, that is no mean feat compared to WWII when some pilots flew Spitfires into combat with less than 100 flying hours in their log books. Flight training for the latest 5th generation planes is measured in years rather than hours.

This is where unmanned aircraft come in.

For quasi allies like Japan and the UK, joint development of next generation aircraft is the obvious way to go. It plays to their strengths (leaders in technology) and mitigates for their weakness (scarcity of ready pilot replacement). It also reflects the level of trust needed to sustain a long-term strategic commitment. How many other nations capable of this level of military technological development can rely on one-another to stay a common strategic course over the next several decades in close alliance with the United States?

Franz-Stephan Gady writes in the Diplomat that :

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera confirmed last month that the Japan and the UK had “an exchange of opinions” on the Tempest Future Fighter Aircraft project noting that London is “looking for international joint development partners.” Japan has also been looking for international partners to collaborate with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and various Japanese sub-contractors on a new fighter aircraft, tentatively named the (F-3) Future Fighter Program. The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has a requirement for up to 100 new stealth fighter jets.

Japan’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency and the UK Ministry of Defense first began exploring options for jointly developing a new stealth fighter jet in 2017. The collaboration agreement stipulated that Japan and the UK will exchange information about advanced aviation technology and also conduct a joint study on the feasibility of co-developing the new fighter aircraft in the coming years, I explained in March 2017. Japan and the UK are already cooperating on other aspects of military aviation. Both countries, in cooperation with other European partners, are co-developing a new air-to-air missile. The prototype of this Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) is expected to be built by the end of 2018.

The design concept showcased at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in mid-July “described a need for “scalable autonomy,” which would imply an optionally manned capability, as well as a potentially artificial intelligence-driven set of flight and mission systems to reduce strain on the pilot and speed up their decision making processes. In addition, the goal is for a single manned Tempest to be able to issue orders to multiple autonomous pilotless versions, a concept commonly known as a “loyal wingman,” or otherwise control swarms of other, smaller drones.” (link)

Jane’s 360  confirmed that the UK and Japan are exploring collaboration in this area:

Citing Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo confirmed in a recent statement that Japan and the UK have had an “exchange of opinions” about the possibility of a joint air combat project to meet the JASDF’s requirements. In addition, in acknowledging that the UK is “looking for international joint development partners” in the Tempest programme, Onodera indicated that additional future discussions on the project are planned. “As for how the UK’s recently announced strategy will affect the possibility of a joint project between Japan and the UK, we hope to discern that through discussions and exchanges of opinions with the UK moving forward,” he said.

Watch this space.

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UK new Foreign Secretary good news for Anglo – Japan relations.

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Jeremy Hunt, appointed UK Foreign Secretary following the resignation of Boris Johnson, is good news for the Anglo-Japan alliance.

  • He loves Japan: He learned to speak Japanese while spending two years as an English language teacher in Japan (SCMP). In a piece on his blog entitled “The Japanese Ambassador” (it is an interview with Yoshiji Nogami ) he wrote that “Japan is one of those countries you catch a bug for and it never really leaves you.” He is reported to still be a ‘fluent‘ speaker of Japanese.
  • Awareness of the maritime domain, which is a key part of Anglo-Japan mutual interest: He is the eldest son of Admiral Nicholas Hunt,  Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 1985 to 1987.
  • Wider Asia knowledge: Jeremy Hunt learned to speak Mandarin while Culture Secretary. His wife Lucia is Chinese.

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UK-Japan alliance goes operational on North Korea

Photo/IllutrationThe Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force resupply vessel Tokiwa and the Royal Navy frigate Sutherland perform procedures for refueling at sea off the Kanto region on April 27. (Provided by the Maritime Self-Defense Force, published in Asahi Shinbun)

The “new type of alliance” between the UK and Japan recorded in this blog has just passed a major milestone: at this moment Royal Navy ships are operating alongside Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces in the seas off North Korea, policing UN sanctions.

UN sanctions passed September 2017 banned various exports to North Korea in the wake of its sixth nuclear test, making it illegal for ships to transfer goods and items to North Korean vessels. But there have been reports of ships transferring oil to North Korean vessels at sea, in breach of these sanctions. “The presence of HMS Albion in the region is a demonstration of the British government and Royal Navy’s commitment to engaging in international cooperation to ensure that those sanctions are respected,” Mr Wightman (British High Commissioner to Singapore Scott Wightman) told reporters. (The Straits Times)

UN member states have the authority to inspect vessels suspected of evading UN sanctions.

Japan is now the hub of a multinational force composed of US, UK, Canadian and Australian elements. National broadcaster NHK reported on 28 April 2018  that Australia and Canada will dispatch military aircraft to a US base in Japan to monitor illicit ship-to-ship transfers involving North Korean vessels. The sources say the patrol aircraft are soon expected to be sent to the US Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan. This may be the first time since the Korean war in the1950s that  multiple non-Japanese forces operate from Japan.

The cancellation by President Trump of the scheduled talks with DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un today raises tension in the region, and magnifies the significance of this informal coalition operating round the clock in the seas around the Korean peninsula. Observers of the DPRK will recall that only 8 years ago a South Korean ship “Cheonan” was sunk with the loss of 46 lives in an explosion that the authorities in Seoul attributed to the North Korean navy, probably a submarine.

It would be reasonable to assume that in addition to the aircraft and surface vessels openly engaged in the operation, there is also much more going on below the surface.

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