P.M. Abe’s visit to the UK on 1-2 May was relatively light on security and defence aspects of the relationship, and talk of ‘a new type of alliance’ was absent (though Abe again used his notion of the UK and Japan as ‘a priori partners’).
There were two main take-aways: (1) a commitment to launch negotiations towards an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), which would enable British forces and the Japanese Self Defence Forces to support one-another in logistics on operations; (2) a commitment to hold ‘2+2’ talks, between Defence and Foreign Ministers of both countries.
Topics discussed with P.M. Cameron included Toshiba/Westinghouse investment in the UK nuclear industry, cooperation via the G7 on countering Russia’s moves in Ukraine and energy diversification (preparation for the June G7 summit in Brussels), Japan-EU free trade agreement, and cooperation on preparations for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Here is an extract from the speech Abe delivered “Redefining Japan-UK Relations”at the Welcoming Dinner Hosted by the City of London,Thursday, May 1, 2014:
“Proactive Contribution to Peace” and Japan-UK relations
I would like to close my remarks this evening by stating that in the area of security as well, our two countries are poised to have ties of a nature altogether different from what we have had until now.
This past December, a tremendous typhoon struck the Philippines. It was at this time that the HMS Illustrious of the Royal Navy and the JDS Ise of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force worked together to rescue and assist the disaster victims.
Believing that world peace and international public goods such as freedom of aviation and navigation are best safeguarded through the efforts of nations that value the rule of law and uphold democracy and freedom, my government, wishing to uphold our responsibilities in that regard, has decided to carry the banner of “Proactive Contribution to Peace.”
The cooperation demonstrated between the Ise and the Illustrious is the best endorsement of the fact that Japan’s new banner of Proactive Contribution to Peace can be pursued even more fittingly when nations having the same aspirations and values work together.
I am of a belief that going forward, Japan and the UK should work more closely in collaboration with each other, together shouldering responsibilities from the peace of the seas to the security of the skies, space, and cyberspace.
I believe that we should deepen our association on a routine basis so that we are able to execute the cooperation that was achieved between the Ise and the Illustrious whenever necessary.
Today, seeking to make this a reality, Prime Minister Cameron and I agreed that we would have our Joint Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations, often referred to as “2 + 2” meetings, on a regular basis, and that we would carry out a closer level of consultations between the heads of our respective National Security Secretariats.
We have already entered into cooperation in the field of defence equipment. We will also make steady efforts towards the conclusion of an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement between the U.K. and Japan.
On May 2nd, Japan’s Vice Parliamentary Minister for Defence Kihara Minoru gave a speech at IISS entitled ‘Japan and UK as Strategic Partners – towards further co-operation in the defence field‘, which called for strengthening of UK-Japan relations as a ‘trans-Eurasian relationship’ which would compliment the trans-Pacific (Japan-US) and trans-Atlantic (UK-US) relationships.