Defense ministers from Japan and the United Kingdom announced Tuesday that the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its strike group will visit Japanese ports in September for joint exercises, as the two countries strengthen military ties amid increased Chinese assertiveness in regional waters.
The visit by the Royal Navy’s largest cruiser is part of Britain’s “Indo-Pacific tilt,” which shares interests with Japan, according to British defense secretary Ben Wallace.
“Both our countries seek to protect and uphold the rules-based international order,” Wallace said after meeting with his Japanese colleague, Nobuo Kishi, at a joint news conference.
As China advances its claims to contentious territories in the West Philippine Sea and the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu, Japan has been striving to extend and deepen security ties with other nations in addition to its main partner, the United States.
Tokyo has been bolstering its connections with the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Southeast Asian nations.
Kishi stated that Britain is a crucial partner in addressing the Indo-Pacific region’s shared concerns.
“We confirmed our shared position in strongly opposing unilateral attempts using force to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas,” Kishi added.
Wallace and Kishi also agreed to speed up talks on possible collaboration on Japan’s next-generation FX fighter plane, with an emphasis on engine systems and subsystems.
As part of Britain’s expanded commitment in the Indo-Pacific area, the Royal Navy strike group left home in May.
According to Wallace, the two like-minded countries have a responsibility “to protect those that are unable to protect themselves from adversaries that will threaten them.”