British and Japanese troops will be deployed to each other’s territory as Tokyo deepens its alignment with NATO powers
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, will sign a major defense deal on Wednesday, Sunak’s office has announced. As Britain and its NATO allies focus on fighting both Russia and China, Japan is deepening its cooperation with the Western military machine.
The Reciprocal Access Agreement allows both countries to deploy and maintain troops on each other’s territory “bigger and more complex” joint military exercises, according to a statement from Downing Street.
While Japan is already home to about 50,000 US troops, Wednesday’s signing will make the UK the first European country to sign a reciprocal access agreement with Japan. Australia has had such an agreement with Japan since 2007, although this pact became non-binding upon renewal in October.
The signing comes a month after Japan, the UK and Italy announced they would work together to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet, merging separate national jet programs.
These developments mark a major move by Japan away from its post-WWII constitution, which commits the country to a pacifist foreign policy and mandates that its military be a strictly defensive and peacekeeping force.
However, Japan joined the renewed Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – a loose military alliance with the US, India and Australia explicitly aimed at countering China in the “Indo Pacific” region — in 2017, and in December announced a doubling of its military budget, citing missiles “missile threats” from China and North Korea.
Tokyo also joined the West in cracking down on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine and plans to station supersonic missiles near Russia’s northeastern islands. Moscow is considering making this plan “a serious challenge” to his safety.
Sunak and Kishida will discuss both Ukraine and China on Wednesday, with the UK Prime Minister’s office stating they would talk about “the need to maintain our collective support” to strengthen Kiev and its army.
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