On August 1, Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, met with the Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State of the United Kingdom, for approximately 60 minutes while at the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. The overview of the meeting is as follows:
1. Opening Remarks
Minister Kono congratulated the Foreign Secretary on the assumption of his office and took the opportunity to express his intention to further strengthen Japan’s close relationship with the UK, cooperating on a range of issues including the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific as Japan and the UK has established the closest relationship ever before since the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Foreign Secretary Raab said that cooperation between Japan and the UK is incredibly valuable and expressed his intention to continue to strengthen the relationship.
2. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU
Minister Kono stressed that the withdrawal process should be conducted in an orderly manner based on an agreement with the EU, stating the importance of minimizing the negative impact on Japanese businesses and the world economy. Minister Kono expressed his strong hopes that the UK can continue to be an attractive destination for investment by Japanese businesses. In response, the Foreign Secretary said that to achieve an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU, Prime Minister Johnson will shortly be visiting European countries. He also stated his intention to work hard to fully alleviate the concerns of Japanese businesses.
3. Japan-UK relations
(1)Minister Kono and Secretary Raab shared the view to coordinate on planning for the upcoming Japan-UK Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting (2+2) to be held early in Japan.
(2)Furthermore, both the Minister and the Foreign Secretary also discussed the Japan-UK economic relations including an establishment of a future economic partnership between their two countries after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Minister Kono welcomed the UK’s interest on a possible membership in TPP11 and expressed his intention to continue to support the UK’s effort through information sharing.
(3)Minister Kono made a request for cooperation regarding the easing of the EU’s import restrictions on Japanese food and feed from regions affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and gained the Foreign Secretary’s understanding on the matter.
4. Regional Affairs
(1)Minister Kono and Secretary Raab discussed the regional affairs, confirming their intentions to continue close exchanges of opinions.
(2)Regarding North Korea, the Minister and Secretary shared the view to continue close cooperation on the complete denuclearization of North Korea. Minister Kono requested the UK’s understanding and cooperation on the immediate resolution of the abduction issue, gaining the UK’s understanding of the Japanese position.
US Admiral Philip Davidson (head of the Indo-Pacific Command) caused a stir with recent comments on discussions with Indian counterparts regarding the “quad” (a loose security grouping consisting of the Australia, Japan, USA, UK), which suggest that there is not “immediate potential” for it to realize a military dimension.
HMS Montrose is on a 3 year deployment, which has included duties in the Gulf and UN sanctions enforcement around DPRK. This projection of maritime power is possible due to the UK`s global support infrastructure and an innovative method of rotating crews that allow Royal Navy ships to be active on duty around the globe for extended periods.
Along HMS Montrose` 5,500-mile journey from South America to New Zealand the type 23 Frigate (armed with the newly accepted Sea Ceptor anti-missile missile system intended to provide defence to the UK`s new Aircraft Carriers, that are expected in the region in a couple of years) also spent some time visiting Tahiti – the first time in 15 years a Royal Navy ship has visited the French island chain – 5,000 miles from Japan, 2,500 miles from Auckland. During her time in Tahiti, Montrose honed her air defense skills against a French Guardian Maritime Patrol Aircraft. And the French made use of HMS Montrose, practicing setting down one of their Dauphin helicopters on the flight deck – all before the British warship sailed into the capital Papeete. (detail courtesy of Navaltoday.com)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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