Japan welcomes Gen. Carleton-Smith, Chief of the UK General Staff

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Trilateral Japan-UK-US Navy exercise

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NHK reported a trilateral exercise involving the helicopter carrier (soon-to-be fixed wing aircraft carrier) Izumo and ships from the Royal Navy and US Navies.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force is to conduct its first joint drill with the US and British navies in the Pacific off southern Japan later this week. The MSDF says its largest destroyer, the Izumo, the British Navy’s HMS Argyll, and a US naval vessel will take part in the exercise. In the drill planned for Saturday, personnel will check the roles for each vessel and the procedures for information-sharing based on various scenarios, including conflict situations. The exercise is apparently aimed at showing the partnership among the three countries amid China’s increasing maritime activity. The mid-term defense program, approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, says Japan will actively promote bilateral and multilateral drills. The SDF will be given more opportunities to strengthen its partnerships with the forces of other countries.

A follow-up report is here on Def Post.

Another here in Stars and Stripes.

This gives form to the trilateral naval agreement signed in October 2016 at the Pentagon by the chiefs of all three navies, committing them to “strengthen maritime contributions for achieving mutually desired strategic effects”.

It is not quite the post-World War I “Four Powers Treaty” Britain, France, Japan and USA signed in 1923 in the wake of the Anglo-Japan Alliance (1902-1923), but it is getting there.

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Britain`s quasi-alliance with Japan

Chapter 2 in the just issued policy paper from the Elcano Institute: “Natural Partners? Europe, Japan and security in the Indo-Pacific”

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LS & US (Eds.), Natural Partners_ Europe, Japan and Security in the Indo-Pacific

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British Foreign Minister announces UK-Japan hotline

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UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt announced the installation of a hotline linking his office with counterparts in the Japanese government in a wide ranging speech on foreign policy (link) delivered at PolicyExchangeUK on 31 Oct 2018.

Jeremy Hunt explained that his office has for a long time had secure phone connections to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This reflects the famous “five eyes” intelligence family descended from the 1940s era. Is this a prelude to Japan being invited into the five eyes family, as recently suggested in an article in the Nikkei?

As an indication of how he sees Britain’s diplomacy developing in the post-Brexit era, Hunt announced that to “allow for the strengthening of important alliances”,  a secure phone connection with Japan has been installed.

A connection was also added to counterparts in France and Germany.

The speech placed this move in the context of a post-Brexit global Britain foreign policy that consists of:

“..adding links to the chain that will allow us to play our part in linking the countries that share our values.”

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UK assures Japan: “will not have to fight alone” #日英同盟

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Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders (UK Land Force Commander) shakes hands with Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Lieutenant General Yuichi Takada during a joint military drill in Oyama on October 2, 2018. Credit: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP

Some would question whether ‘alliance’ is the right term to describe the UK-Japan relationship. When you hear this, you might ask instead ‘is there a better word that 同盟 – “allies”? :

“Japan remains one of our most important strategic partners in the Asia-Pacific region and we welcome the opportunity to develop strong bi-lateral ties as well as demonstrate the UK’s approach to joint exercises. No nation operates alone and we want to assure Japan that they will not have to fight alone either”.

UK Land Force Commander Lt. General Patrick Sanders quoted in UK Daily Telegraph 

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British Army exercise with Japan Ground Self Defence forces, further deepening Anglo-Japan new type of Alliance.

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50 members of the British Army’s Reserve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance regiment (the Honourable Artillery Company) have taken part in joint training at the Fuji Training Camp with the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Forces.

Exercise VIGILANT ISLES began with a joint helicopter drill where troops from both nations demonstrated their rapid reaction capability. The exercise is focused on sharing tactics and surveillance techniques.Troops were deployed to observation posts in the rural training area to simulate a joint operation involving a similar number of Japanese soldiers.

Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Mark Wood, said:

The HAC has almost 500 years of history, but this is the first time anyone in the Regiment or indeed the British Army has had the opportunity to train alongside the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force. It is an incredible privilege to be at the vanguard. The Japanese have been incredibly welcoming and excellent partners to work with, and we have learned a huge amount from them, improving both our mutual understanding and our ability to plan and conduct activity together.

In fact as Bill Hayton (@bill_hayton) pointed out, this is the second time, the first being the 2016 Exercise Vambrace Warrior, where a GSDF unit joined the UK in a week long recce exercise in Wales.

The training continues for the a fortnight in Ojijihara, north of the city of Sendai, a five-hour drive from Tokyo.

Credits to article at The Military Times

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British Army joint exercise with Japan Ground Self Defence Forces at the Fuji training area. This is the first time foreign military (except the US) has trained on Japanese soil, further deepening the UK-Japan partnership. Twitter page of UK Ambassador to Japan, Paul Madden

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Anglo-Japan Alliance in the Indo-Pacific

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British frigate HMS Argyle (front), Japanese destroyer Inazuma (C) and Japanese helicopter carrier Kaga take part in a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean, September 26, 2018. Picture taken September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/japan-warship-britain-south-china-sea-navy-10762428

In the days of the first Anglo-Japan Alliance (1902-22) Japanese Navy escorted commonwealth ships across the Indian Ocean during WWI. Now the new type of alliance is back in the Indian Ocean.

Navy-to-navy relations have become exceptionally close again. This sums it up –

“Normally we hold discussion with other countries before joint drills, but with the British there is no need to, so they are easy to work with,” said Tatsuhiko Mizuno, an operation planning officer for the Kaga group.

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