Amidst rising tensions in the Asia-Pacific region over North Korea and Taiwan, Tokyo is seeking to strengthen its alliances. The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, will sign a new agreement called the “Hiroshima Accord” to deepen security ties. This includes a commitment from the UK to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group to the Indo-Pacific in 2025. The accord also covers trade and investment, collaboration on science and technology, and joint initiatives to tackle global issues such as climate change.
The UK and Japan will deepen their cooperation between their armed forces, grow their economies together, and develop their world-leading science and technology expertise. The agreement will also see the UK deploy its Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Pacific in 2025 and double troop numbers in upcoming joint military exercises. Additionally, the two countries will agree on a formal “Consult Clause” to consult each other on important regional and global security issues.
The UK and Japan are strengthening their ties amidst heightened tensions in the Asia-Pacific region over North Korea’s advancing weapons programme and China’s increasingly assertive positions on issues such as Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea. Japan has also announced plans to strengthen security ties with the United States and is part of the Quad security alliance with Australia, India, and the US.
The joint Vigilant Isles military exercises will take place in Japan later this year, with about 170 UK personnel scheduled to take part. The UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and its flotilla of Royal Navy ships made its maiden voyage to the region in 2021 and is expected to work alongside the Japanese Self Defence Forces and other regional partners in 2025 “to help defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific”.
The new accord will also include science and technology programmes to support UK-Japan collaboration between universities and companies, the rapid development of green technologies, and a Semiconductors Partnership. Sunak is due to arrive in Tokyo on Thursday and will meet key Japanese business leaders.
The UK has been looking to deepen relationships with countries outside Europe after leaving the European Union, the world’s biggest single market.