Britain and Japan plan large-scale military drills to deter China and Russia
British and Japanese troops are planning joint military exercises in the Indo-Pacific to deter an increasingly aggressive China, Russia and North Korea.
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, signed a defence agreement in London that will provide the bedrock for large-scale drills to face down Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing that China and Russia have been conducting joint military drills very frequently,” said Hikariko Ono, Kishida’s press secretary, before criticising Pyongyang’s provocative missile tests.
The agreement was a “milestone” that would make holding joint military drills with the British Army and Royal Navy “smoother”, she said.
The new deal will allow Japanese troops to be based in the UK where they could help train Ukrainian soldiers alongside other nations, as well as British troops to be in Japan.
Any move to send soldiers to train Kyiv’s forces would be a “show of commitment” from Tokyo, a British defence source told The Telegraph.
“Collaboration across defence and security would not only benefit Japan and the United Kingdom, but broader global stability, the leaders agreed,” a Downing Street spokesman said after Sunak met Kishida at the Tower of London, where they viewed armour gifted to James I by Japan.
Japan, which is constitutionally neutral, plans to increase its defence spending to two per cent of GDP. But despite an invitation from Australia, has held “no concrete discussions” on joining the Aukus security pact.
Britain, the US and Australia signed the agreement in 2021, which will help Canberra build nuclear power submarines.
“Later on, we may think about it but not now,” Ono said before Sunak held talks with Kishida.
The deepening of defensive ties with Britain came after Japan named China as its “greatest strategic threat”, North Korea as its “greatest threat” and Russia a source of “strong concern”.
Tokyo has imposed sanctions on Moscow and sent military equipment to Kyiv since the invasion. Kishida has warned that “Ukraine today could be Asia tomorrow”.
He will also chair the next meeting of G7 leaders in Hiroshima in May, where he plans to heap fresh pressure on Putin over his nuclear threats in a city destroyed by the atomic bomb in the Second World War.
“The security environment is really severe,” said Ono. “We have no choice but to think about whether or not our current status and current defence capability can really defend the life and legacy of the Japanese people.”