Jan. 11 (UPI) — The prime ministers of Britain and Japan are set to sign a defense agreement in London on Wednesday marking another sign of the Asian country strengthening its military ties since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, are set to sign the agreement that will allow Britain and Japan to deploy forces in one another’s countries, extending Britain’s reach into the Indo-Pacific region.
“This Reciprocal Access Agreement is hugely significant for both our nations — it cements our commitment to the Indo-Pacific and underlines our joint efforts to bolster economic security, accelerate our defense cooperation and drive innovation that creates highly skilled jobs,” Sunak said in a statement.
Under the agreement, Britain will become the first European country to have a Reciprocal Access Agreement since 1902, as Sunak said it is important for democratic societies to “stand shoulder to shoulder as we navigate the unprecedented global challenges of our time.”
The agreement also comes after Britain, Japan and Italy launched the Global Combat Air Program and new digital partnership between Britain and Japan.
The combat program to develop a next-generation jet fighter by 2035.
“In the past 12 months, we have written the next chapter of the relationship between the U.K, and Japan — accelerating, building and deepening our ties,” Sunak said.
“We have so much in common: a shared outlook on the world, a shared understanding of the threats and challenges we face, and a shared ambition to use our place in the world for global good, ensuring our countries prosper for generations to come.”
On Tuesday, Japan and Italy agreed to launch bilateral security talks to boost defense cooperation, including engaging the two countries’ foreign and defense officials and an in-person meeting Kishida and Italian leader Giorgia Meloni held in Rome.
Before leaving Japan for his trip to Europe and the United States, Kishida said he planned to express that Japan understands the security risks globally have changed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The global economy is also facing the possibility of downside risk,” Kishida said in comments this week. “Upon confirming that with the other leaders, I will lay out Japan’s way of thinking as the G7 presidency and reaffirm our cooperation going forward.”
In December, Japan enshrined military changes in three security documents, including a controversial counterstrike capability, which allowed it to shed numerous limitations it placed on itself post World War II.