Britain signs landmark defence pact with Japan in 'Indo-Pacific tilt'

© Carl Court, Reuters

The British and Japanese prime ministers signed what Downing Street called a "hugely significant" new defence deal that could see troops deployed to each others’ countries as the pair met in London on Wednesday.

Rishi Sunak and Fumio Kishida signed the agreement at the Tower of London, with the UK leader telling his guest "the relationship between our two countries is stronger than ever, not just across trade and security but also our values".

The agreement is the latest sign of the UK's growing interest in the Asia-Pacific region, and Tokyo's efforts to strengthen its alliances to face the challenges posed by China.

The deal creates a legal basis for the deployment of British and Japanese troops on each others' territory for training and other operations.

It reflects a new “Indo-Pacific tilt” in Britain’s foreign policy following the country’s departure from the European Union in 2020, confirming Japan as its key East Asian ally.

Sunak's office called it "the most significant defence agreement between the two countries in more than a century".

"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," he said.

Negotiations on the deal began in 2021.

Japan signed a similar accord with Australia last January, and Tokyo has recently overhauled its defence and security policy to address growing pressure from China.

The new agreement will create a "standing framework" instead.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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