Japan and Britain agree to ‘landmark’ defense deal to deepen ties in Indo-Pacific

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May 5 (UPI) — Japan and Britain have agreed to a new defense deal that will allow their militaries to work together more closely, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with Johnson on a state visit to Britain, where the two leaders signed a “landmark new defense agreement to deepen military ties in the Indo-Pacific,” Downing Street said in a statement.

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The reciprocal access agreement will allow British and Japanese forces to deploy together to carry out training, joint exercises and disaster relief activities.

Britain is the first European country to sign a defense pact with Japan. Last year, the British government announced a “tilt to the Indo-Pacific” in a policy report.

“The visit of Prime Minister Kishida will accelerate our close defense relationship and build on our trade partnership to boost major infrastructure projects across the country,” Johnson said.

Kishida’s first official visit to Britain was met with a guard of honor and a flyover by the Royal Air Force.

Thursday’s summit also focused on how to exert pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Downing Street said. Japan has joined with the other Group of Seven nations in aggressively implementing wide-ranging sanctions and trade bans against Russia.

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Britain and Japan said Thursday they would work together to help countries in Asia transition to green energy and reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas.

In a major policy shift last month, Kishida announced that Japan would phase out coal imports from Russia — which have accounted for 13% of the total used for power generation in Japan.

Earlier on Thursday, Kishida told a panel of British business leaders that Japan would turn to nuclear reactors to lower its reliance on Russian energy.

Only a handful of Japan’s 33 nuclear reactors have gone back online since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. However, a survey by business newspaper Nikkei in March showed a majority of Japanese respondents now support restarting the idled reactors.

Britain also announced Thursday that it would lift its last remaining restrictions on food imports from the Fukushima region.